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Concept# Drag (physics)

Summary

In fluid dynamics, drag (sometimes called fluid resistance) is a force acting opposite to the relative motion of any object moving with respect to a surrounding fluid. This can exist between two fluid layers (or surfaces) or between a fluid and a solid surface.
Unlike other resistive forces, such as dry friction, which are nearly independent of velocity, the drag force depends on velocity. Drag force is proportional to the velocity for low-speed flow and the squared velocity for high speed flow, where the distinction between low and high speed is measured by the Reynolds number.
Drag forces always tend to decrease fluid velocity relative to the solid object in the fluid's path.
Examples of drag include the component of the net aerodynamic or hydrodynamic force acting opposite to the direction of movement of a solid object such as cars (automobile drag coefficient), aircraft and boat hulls; or acting in the same geographical direction of motion as the solid, as for sails attached to a down wind sail boat, or in intermediate directions on a sail depending on points of sail. In the case of viscous drag of fluid in a pipe, drag force on the immobile pipe decreases fluid velocity relative to the pipe.
In the physics of sports, the drag force is necessary to explain the motion of balls, javelins, arrows and frisbees and the performance of runners and swimmers.
Types of drag are generally divided into the following categories:
form drag or pressure drag due to the size and shape of a body
skin friction drag or viscous drag due to the friction between the fluid and a surface which may be the outside of an object or inside such as the bore of a pipe
The effect of streamlining on the relative proportions of skin friction and form drag is shown for two different body sections, an airfoil, which is a streamlined body, and a cylinder, which is a bluff body. Also shown is a flat plate illustrating the effect that orientation has on the relative proportions of skin friction and pressure difference between front and back.

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