Journal of Fluid Mechanics


GEORGE KEITH BATCHELOR 8 March 1920–30 March 2000 Founding Editor, Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 1956

a1 Institute of Theoretical Geophysics, Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge, Silver Street, Cambridge CB3 9EW, UK


George Batchelor was one of the giants of fluid mechanics in the second half of the twentieth century. He had a passion for physical and quantitative understanding of fluid flows and a single-minded determination that fluid mechanics should be pursued as a subject in its own right. He once wrote that he ‘spent a lifetime happily within its boundaries’. Six feet tall, thin and youthful in appearance, George's unchanging attire and demeanour contrasted with his ever-evolving scientific insights and contributions. His strongly held and carefully articulated opinions, coupled with his forthright objectivity, shone through everything he undertook.

George's pervasive influence sprang from a number of factors. First, he conducted imaginative, ground-breaking research, which was always based on clear physical thinking. Second, he founded a school of fluid mechanics, inspired by his mentor G. I. Taylor, that became part of the world renowned Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP) of which he was the Head from its inception in 1959 until he retired from his Professorship in 1983. Third, he established this Journal in 1956 and actively oversaw all its activities for more than forty years, until he relinquished his editorship at the end of 1998. Fourth, he wrote the monumental textbook An Introduction to Fluid Dynamics, which first appeared in 1967, has been translated into four languages and has been relaunched this year, the year of his death. This book, which describes the fundamentals of the subject and discusses many applications, has been closely studied and frequently cited by generations of students and research workers. It has already sold over 45 000 copies. And fifth, but not finally, he helped initiate a number of international organizations (often European), such as the European Mechanics Committee (now Society) and the biennial Polish Fluid Mechanics Meetings, and contributed extensively to the running of IUTAM, the International Union of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics. The aim of all of these associations is to foster fluid (and to some extent solid) mechanics and to encourage the development of the subject.

(Received July 31 2000)