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Classically, a compressible, isothermal, viscous fluid is regarded as a mathematical continuum and its motion is governed by the linearized continuity, Navier-Stokes, and state equations. Unfortunately, solutions of this system are of a diffusive nature and hence do not satisfy causality. However, in the case of a half-space of fluid set to motion by a harmonically vibrating plate the classical equation of motion can, under suitable conditions, be approximated by the damped wave equation. Since this equation is hyperbolic, the resulting solutions satisfy causal requirements. In this work the Laplace transform and other analytical and numerical tools are used to investigate this apparent contradiction. To this end the exact solutions, as well as their special and limiting cases, are found and compared for the two models. The effects of the physical parameters on the solutions and associated quantities are also studied. It is shown that propagating wave fronts are only possible under the hyperbolic model and that the concept of phase speed has different meanings in the two formulations. In addition, discontinuities and shock waves are noted and a physical system is modeled under both formulations. Overall, it is shown that the hyperbolic form gives a more realistic description of the physical problem than does the classical theory. Lastly, a simple mechanical analog is given and connections to viscoelastic fluids are noted. In particular, the research presented here supports the notion that linear compressible, isothermal, viscous fluids can, at least in terms of causality, be better characterized as a type of viscoelastic fluid.

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Physical Review E


Copyright 2000. American Physical Society.

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