A GREAT MAN'S GLORY
In the summer of 2002, while researching
the writing of Milestones of Hydrology.
I noticed that Ven T. Chow had
mentioned the Froude number
in his popular textbook, 1
but had not elaborated on its origins.
The Froude number, a fundamental principle of open-channel
hydraulics, is defined as the ratio of the mean velocity (Manning or Chezy
to the relative celerity
of small surface perturbations (Lagrange celerity).
In an effort to tell the story accurately,
I consulted several books and learned
that Froude had not developed the Froude number.
Furthermore, Froude's major work,
published in 1871,
had dealt not with open-channel hydraulics, but with ship stability and hydrodynamics.
Froude's contributions to society, however, were of such importance
that he was highly regarded by his peers.
To honor his memory, they
attributed to him the concept which now bears his name.
Thus, the moral of the story: A great man's glory is
controlled less by his own actions than by those of his peers.
1 Chow, V. T. (1959).
"Open-channel hydraulics," McGraw-Hill, New York.