Reflections on the 150th Anniversary of Winkler’s Foundation and its Profound Influence on the Field of Adhesion

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This year, 2017, marks the 150th anniversary of Emil Winkler’s seminal publication of the beam on elastic foundation (BoEF) solution [1] published in 1867 while a professor at the University of Prague. With wide-ranging interests in analysis of civil engineering structures, he initially proposed the BoEF model for the rather obvious application to sleepers and rails supported by the earth upon which they rest [2]. The essence of the model lies in the simple but profound assumption that the restoring force of an elastic foundation is linearly proportional to the deflection. The important resulting mechanics of materials solution has been applied to a wide range of engineering applications, including a plethora of discrete and continuous loading and boundary conditions, extensions to plates and pontoon bridges, nonlinear behavior, and even the analysis of deflections and stresses in pressurized cylindrical tanks, where the effective restoring force is not supplied by a separate medium but rather by the hoop stresses developed due to stretching of the curved walls.