Fluid dynamics of car mirrors: a Flow Illustrator lesson

This entire lesson is covered by Creative common (CC) BY 4.0 licence. In essence, this means that this lesson is free to use and modify, including commercial use, provided that an attribution to Flow Illustrator is given with the link to www.flowillustrator.com.


This lesson was developed by Sergei Chernyshenko, a professor in the Department of Aeronautics of Imperial College London, who would be grateful for feedback being sent directly to him.

We encourage school teachers to use this lesson. It will help to enrich the education content, in particular for engineering, physics, and other STEM subjects. The lesson is suitable for preparing for university admission interviews. Thanks to the entertaining elements, it can be also adjusted to GCSE level.

A PowerPoint presentation with the images and videos from this lesson can be downloaded from here. Edit it as desired for your lesson. A pdf version can be downloaded from here.

Part of the lesson implies working with Flow Illustrator. Videos required by the lesson take 4 minutes each to produce, and Flow Illustrator can do 3 in parallel, hence, for a class size of 30 it will take about 40 minutes, provided that there are no other users. For such a class it might be reasonable to do the calculations as homework.

 To see the lesson itself, click on the Introduction link in the content.

Table of content



Von Kármán vortex street

Features of the flow past the mirrors: separation and wake

Drag force

Reality check

Making your own flow calculation

Analyzing the calculation result

 Begin now