Ernst Mach in Prague and the Dawn of Gas Dynamics
Ernst Mach came to Prague in 1867 to become Professor of Experimental Physics and Director of the Institute of Physics of the Carlo-Ferdinand University. He spent in Prague 28 years before leaving for Vienna in 1895 to become Professor of Natural Philosophy at the University of Vienna. Besides teaching duties during the first years in Prague, he resumed his former research in physiology of sensations and experimentally proved the Doppler effect. With his students he carried out a systematic investigation into propagation and interaction of acoustic waves. As an empirio-critical philosopher Mach subjected to critique Newton´s mechanics in a book on mechanics which strongly influenced Einstein. However, most important was his contribution to the science of gas dynamics: he was the first to visualize successfully the high-speed flow phenomena and to unveil the secrets of shock waves – the most typical and important phenomenon of high speed aerodynamics.
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