Basics of Fluid Mechanics
Potto Home About
Prologue Preliminary Author Index TOC
Next: Prologue    Previous: Author

Prologue For The Potto Project

This books series was born out of frustrations in two respects. The first issue is the enormous price of college textbooks. It is unacceptable that the price of the college books will be over $150 per book (over 10 hours of work for an average student in The United States).

The second issue that prompted the writing of this book is the fact that we as the public have to deal with a corrupted judicial system. As individuals we have to obey the law, particularly the copyright law with the ``infinite[*]'' time with the copyright holders. However, when applied to ``small'' individuals who are not able to hire a large legal firm, judges simply manufacture facts to make the little guy lose and pay for the defense of his work. On one hand, the corrupted court system defends the ``big'' guys and on the other hand, punishes the small ``entrepreneur'' who tries to defend his or her work. It has become very clear to the author and founder of the POTTO Project that this situation must be stopped. Hence, the creation of the POTTO Project. As R. Kook, one of this author's sages, said instead of whining about arrogance and incorrectness, one should increase wisdom. This project is to increase wisdom and humility.

The Potto Project has far greater goals than simply correcting an abusive Judicial system or simply exposing abusive judges. It is apparent that writing textbooks especially for college students as a cooperation, like an open source, is a new idea[*]. Writing a book in the technical field is not the same as writing a novel. The writing of a technical book is really a collection of information and practice. There is always someone who can add to the book. The study of technical material isn't only done by having to memorize the material, but also by coming to understand and be able to solve related problems. The author has not found any technique that is more useful for this purpose than practicing the solving of problems and exercises. One can be successful when one solves as many problems as possible. To reach this possibility the collective book idea was created/adapted. While one can be as creative as possible, there are always others who can see new aspects of or add to the material. The collective material is much richer than any single person can create by himself.

The following example explains this point: The army ant is a kind of carnivorous ant that lives and hunts in the tropics, hunting animals that are even up to a hundred kilograms in weight. The secret of the ants' power lies in their collective intelligence. While a single ant is not intelligent enough to attack and hunt large prey, the collective power of their networking creates an extremely powerful intelligence to carry out this attack[*]. When an insect which is blind can be so powerful by networking, so can we in creating textbooks by this powerful tool.

Why would someone volunteer to be an author or organizer of such a book? This is the first question the undersigned was asked. The answer varies from individual to individual. It is hoped that because of the open nature of these books, they will become the most popular books and the most read books in their respected field. For example, the books on compressible flow and die casting became the most popular books in their respective area. In a way, the popularity of the books should be one of the incentives for potential contributors. The desire to be an author of a well-known book (at least in his/her profession) will convince some to put forth the effort. For some authors, the reason is the pure fun of writing and organizing educational material. Experience has shown that in explaining to others any given subject, one also begins to better understand the material. Thus, contributing to these books will help one to understand the material better. For others, the writing of or contributing to this kind of books will serve as a social function. The social function can have at least two components. One component is to come to know and socialize with many in the profession. For others the social part is as simple as a desire to reduce the price of college textbooks, especially for family members or relatives and those students lacking funds. For some contributors/authors, in the course of their teaching they have found that the textbook they were using contains sections that can be improved or that are not as good as their own notes. In these cases, they now have an opportunity to put their notes to use for others. Whatever the reasons, the undersigned believes that personal intentions are appropriate and are the author's/organizer's private affair.

If a contributor of a section in such a book can be easily identified, then that contributor will be the copyright holder of that specific section (even within question/answer sections). The book's contributor's names could be written by their sections. It is not just for experts to contribute, but also students who happened to be doing their homework. The student's contributions can be done by adding a question and perhaps the solution. Thus, this method is expected to accelerate the creation of these high quality books.

These books are written in a similar manner to the open source software process. Someone has to write the skeleton and hopefully others will add ``flesh and skin.'' In this process, chapters or sections can be added after the skeleton has been written. It is also hoped that others will contribute to the question and answer sections in the book. But more than that, other books contain data[*] which can be typeset in LATEX. These data (tables, graphs and etc.) can be redone by anyone who has the time to do it. Thus, the contributions to books can be done by many who are not experts. Additionally, contributions can be made from any part of the world by those who wish to translate the book.

It is hoped that the books will be error-free. Nevertheless, some errors are possible and expected. Even if not complete, better discussions or better explanations are all welcome to these books. These books are intended to be ``continuous'' in the sense that there will be someone who will maintain and improve the books with time (the organizer(s)).

These books should be considered more as a project than to fit the traditional definition of ``plain'' books. Thus, the traditional role of author will be replaced by an organizer who will be the one to compile the book. The organizer of the book in some instances will be the main author of the work, while in other cases only the gate keeper. This may merely be the person who decides what will go into the book and what will not (gate keeper). Unlike a regular book, these works will have a version number because they are alive and continuously evolving.

In the last 5 years three textbooks have been constructed which are available for download. These books contain innovative ideas which make some chapters the best in the world. For example, the chapters on Fanno flow and Oblique shock contain many original ideas such as the full analytical solution to the oblique shock, many algorithms for calculating Fanno flow parameters which are not found in any other book. In addition, Potto has auxiliary materials such as the gas dynamics tables (the largest compressible flow tables collection in the world), Gas Dynamics Calculator (Potto-GDC), etc.

The combined number downloads of these books is over half a million (December 2009) or in a rate of 20,000 copies a month. Potto books on compressible flow and fluid mechanics are used as the main textbook or as a reference book in several universities around the world. The books are used in more than 165 different countries around the world. Every month people from about 110 different countries download these books. The book on compressible flow is also used by ``young engineers and scientists'' in NASA according to Dr. Farassat, NASA Langley Research Center.

The undersigned of this document intends to be the organizer/author/coordinator of the projects in the following areas:

Project Name Progress Remarks Version
Compressible Flow beta
Die Casting alpha 0.1.4
Dynamics NSY 0.0.0
Fluid Mechamics beta 0.3.4
Heat Transer NSY 0.0.0
Mechamics NSY 0.0.0
Open Channel Flow NSY 0.0.0
Statics NSY 0.0.0
Strength of Material NSY 0.0.0
Thermodynamics early alpha 0.0.2
Multi Phase Flow alpha Tel-Aviv Notes 0.0.3

NSY = Not Started Yet The meaning of the progress is as:

  • The Alpha Stage is when some of the chapters are already in a rough draft;
  • in Beta Stage is when all or almost all of the chapters have been written and are at least in a draft stage;
  • in Gamma Stage is when all the chapters are written and some of the chapters are in a mature form; and
  • the Advanced Stage is when all of the basic material is written and all that is left are aspects that are active, advanced topics, and special cases.

The mature stage of a chapter is when all or nearly all the sections are in a mature stage and have a mature bibliography as well as numerous examples for every section. The mature stage of a section is when all of the topics in the section are written, and all of the examples and data (tables, figures, etc.) are already presented. While some terms are defined in a relatively clear fashion, other definitions give merely a hint on the status. But such a thing is hard to define and should be enough for this stage.

The idea that a book can be created as a project has mushroomed from the open source software concept, but it has roots in the way science progresses. However, traditionally books have been improved by the same author(s), a process in which books have a new version every a few years. There are book(s) that have continued after their author passed away, i.e., the Boundary Layer Theory originated[*]by Hermann Schlichting but continues to this day. However, projects such as the Linux Documentation project demonstrated that books can be written as the cooperative effort of many individuals, many of whom volunteered to help.

Writing a textbook is comprised of many aspects, which include the actual writing of the text, writing examples, creating diagrams and figures, and writing the LATEX macros[*]which will put the text into an attractive format. These chores can be done independently from each other and by more than one individual. Again, because of the open nature of this project, pieces of material and data can be used by different books.


... ``infinite[*]
After the last decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Eldred v. Ashcroff (see for more information) copyrights practically remain indefinitely with the holder (not the creator).
... idea[*]
In some sense one can view the encyclopedia Wikipedia as an open content project (see The wikipedia is an excellent collection of articles which are written by various individuals.
... attack[*]
see also in Franks, Nigel R.; 'Army Ants: A Collective Intelligence,' American Scientist, 77:139, 1989 (see for information
... data[*]
Data are not copyrighted.
... originated[*]
Originally authored by Dr. Schlichting, who passed way some years ago. A new version is created every several years.
... macros[*]
One can only expect that open source and readable format will be used for this project. But more than that, only LATEX, and perhaps troff, have the ability to produce the quality that one expects for these writings. The text processes, especially LATEX, are the only ones which have a cross platform ability to produce macros and a uniform feel and quality. Word processors, such as OpenOffice, Abiword, and Microsoft Word software, are not appropriate for these projects. Further, any text that is produced by Microsoft and kept in ``Microsoft'' format are against the spirit of this project In that they force spending money on Microsoft software.

About Potto Project

Potto Project has been created by Dr. Genick Bar-Meir and friends to build open source software and open content textbooks for college students. Over 1,000,000 (million) Potto Project books were downloaded from 175 different countries since 2005.

Potto Project is under open content licenses, which means that you will always have the freedom to use it, make copies of it, and improve it. You are encouraged to make use of these freedoms and share the textbooks and program with your family and friends!

Copyright © 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, and 2003 Dr. Genick Bar-Meir. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License with some modifications, Version 1.2 or later or Potto license.

Site feedback please mail to: potto at potto dot org