We investigate some geometric properties of the curl operator, based on its diagonalization and its expression as a non-local symmetry of the pseudo-derivative $(−\Delta)^{1/2}$ among divergence-free vector fields with finite energy. In this context, we introduce the notion of spin-definite fields, i.e. eigenvectors of $(−\Delta)^{−1/2}$ curl. The two spin-definite components of a general 3D incompressible flow untangle the right-handed motion from the left-handed one. Having observed that the non-linearity of Navier-Stokes has the structure of a cross-product and its weak (distributional) form is a determinant that involves the vorticity, the velocity and a test function, we revisit the conservation of energy and the balance of helicity in a geometrical fashion. We show that in the case of a finite-time blow-up, both spin-definite components of the flow will explode simultaneously and with equal rates, i.e. singularities in 3D are the result of a conflict of spin, which is impossible in the poorer geometry of 2D flows. We investigate the role of the local and non-local determinants $$\int_0^T\int_{\mathbb{R}^3}{\rm det}({\rm curl}u,u,(-\Delta)^{\theta}u)$$ and their spin-definite counterparts, which drive the enstrophy and, more generally, are responsible for the regularity of the flow and the emergence of singularities or quasi-singularities. As such, they are at the core of turbulence phenomena.

}, issn = {2707-8523}, doi = {https://doi.org/10.4208/cmr.2021-0106}, url = {http://global-sci.org/intro/article_detail/cmr/21067.html} }