Experimental applied mathematics
Conventionally, mathematics departments don't have laboratories. But Bristol's mathematics department has always maintained the important connection between theory and experiment, so mathematical modelling goes hand in hand with experimental research, as well as computational simulations.
In many cases, such as granular flows, the fundamentals are not well established so the underlying equations are simply not known. Even pure fluids are complex to model when they are turbulent, so we conduct experiments to reveal the underlying mathematics through repeated observation.
Mathematical research by experiment at Bristol covers many fascinating and vital areas, such as avalanche defences, ash flows from volcanoes, lightning spark diffusion, waves, droplets and the transition to turbulence.
For example, research from Bristol has been instrumental in planning defences to protect life and property in areas prone to avalanche.
Experimental research in the mathematics department is now growing fast. The laboratory has gone through two major expansions in 1999 and 2002 funded by the Wolfson Foundation and the Science Research Infrastructure Fund. Currently, we have a 150 square metres purpose-built laboratory, equipped with several recirculating flumes, a rotating table, a Marx generator, and a range of optics and digital imaging equipment, including a Phantom V high speed camera.