The problem of the body of revolution of minimal resistance
Aberystwyth University, Aberystwyth SY23 3BZ, UK. email@example.com
2 On leave from Department of Mathematics, Aveiro of University, Aveiro 3810-193, Portugal.
3 Department of Mathematics, Aveiro of University, Aveiro 3810-193, Portugal.
Newton's problem of the body of minimal aerodynamic resistance is traditionally stated in the class of convex axially symmetric bodies with fixed length and width. We state and solve the minimal resistance problem in the wider class of axially symmetric but generally nonconvex bodies. The infimum in this problem is not attained. We construct a sequence of bodies minimizing the resistance. This sequence approximates a convex body with smooth front surface, while the surface of approximating bodies becomes more and more complicated. The shape of the resulting convex body and the value of minimal resistance are compared with the corresponding results for Newton's problem and for the problem in the intermediate class of axisymmetric bodies satisfying the single impact assumption [Comte and Lachand-Robert, J. Anal. Math. 83 (2001) 313–335]. In particular, the minimal resistance in our class is smaller than in Newton's problem; the ratio goes to 1/2 as (length)/(width of the body) → 0, and to 1/4 as (length)/(width) → +∞.
Mathematics Subject Classification: 49K30 / 49Q10
Key words: Newton's problem / bodies of minimal resistance / calculus of variations / billiards
© EDP Sciences, SMAI, 2008