Doing it Old School with Physical Models

In this era of computer simulations, are models like the Bay Model (a giant replica of the San Francisco Bay previously used for research on estuary hydraulics and fluid dynamics) relevant? Janice Sinclaire says yes.

Sinclaire writes that while physical models like the Bay Model have mostly disappeared or turned into tourist attractions, they could still have something to teach us:

"With hydraulic computer modeling, a scientist will 'calibrate' the computer to the real world. Gauges are placed in the bay that measure tidal depth, salinity, and water velocity, and the information is programmed into the computer. In theory, when new variables are introduced, results should match the real world. 'Computer guys always have kind of dismissed physical modeling, and the research money is all in computer [modeling] these days,' says Schaaf. 'I'm a guy who now does computer modeling all day every day, but physical modeling gives you security. It means that what you are doing has more validity.'"

Full Story: The Fitness of Physical Models

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