Summary: Dr Andrew Hazel and Dr Anne Juel at the Department
of Mathematics at the University of Manchester, the
fascination of studying the airway reopening lies in
the interesting mathematics and the insights into
physics that it can reveal.
The process of airway reopening is, in theory, simple.
In general terms it can be analysed using established
mathematical techniques for studying classical
continuum mechanics, solid mechanics and fluid
mechanics and by solving the Navier-Stokes
equations, familiar to all students of physics and
engineering and commonly used to study fluid flow.
However, as with many things, the devil is in the
detail. The problem Dr Heil and his colleagues face
is in applying these concepts to study problems
in environments (such as the lungs) where the
geometries involved are highly irregular. "If the
geometry is very simple and the wall is at a constant
radius as it would be in a pipeline, for example