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Walter Munk's Astonishing Wave-Tracking Experiment

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the gnarly-experiment-dude dept.

Earth 55

An anonymous reader writes in with a look at a scientist's interesting wave-tracking experiment and the incredible journeys that waves make. His name is Walter Munk, now in his 90s and a professor emeritus at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California. About 60 years ago, he was anchored off Guadalupe Island, on Mexico's west coast, watching swells come in, and using an equation that he and others had devised to plot a wave's trajectory backward in time, he plotted the probable origins of those swells. But the answer he got was so startling, so over-the-top improbable, that he thought, "No, there must be something wrong." His equations said that the swells hitting beaches In Mexico began some 9,000 miles away — somewhere in the southern reaches of the Indian Ocean, near Antarctica. "Could it be?" he wrote in an autobiographical sketch. Could a storm half way across the world produce a patch of moving water that traveled from near the South Pole, up past Australia, then past New Zealand, then across the vast expanse of the Pacific, arriving still intact – at a beach off Mexico? He decided to find out for himself. That is why, in 1957, Walter Munk designed a global, real life, wave-watching experiment.

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Now that's what I call... (4, Funny)

Sasayaki (1096761) | about 5 months ago | (#47446883)

... making waves.

Re: Now that's what I call... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47446893)

tits

Re:Now that's what I call... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47446915)

I made some waves fucking your mom on my waterbed bitch.

Re:Now that's what I call... (5, Funny)

Sasayaki (1096761) | about 5 months ago | (#47446925)

I'm not really sure why this whole thing is offensive.

My Mum had sex. At least once because, you know, I'm here. This much should be clear. And if she wanted to have sex with you too? Well, she's a grown woman, she can do whatever she wants. Hell, I hope that at age 60 I'm still getting some as well, especially from people who are around a third my age.

I mean, really. That's some high grade success there. Having earth-shattering sex with nubile young 20-something's when you're 60. That's hardly an insult.

I love my Mum a lot. I want her to be happy. If that means having all the crazy sex she wants, by all means. She can. I'm not going to judge her.

And another thing... what does that say about you? "Yeah bro, I had intercourse with a 60 year old woman! Fuck yeah!". I mean, by all means, if that's what you're into then whatever mate, go for your life. Some people like that. It's fine. Some people are into having sex with blowup dolls. That's weird but if it's their thing, then I'm cool with it. They tend to brag about it a lot less though.

Honestly, the most offensive thing about that is the waterbed. Those things are a piece of shit.

Re:Now that's what I call... (2, Insightful)

Jade_Wayfarer (1741180) | about 5 months ago | (#47446951)

Ah, that's just made my monday! Pity I've ran out of modpoints yesterday. If we'd had more people with similar views within our society, it wouldn't be so fucked up.

Re:Now that's what I call... (2)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 5 months ago | (#47448291)

What, that we should embrace our animalistic underpinning nature (like going after someone's mom and the other accepting it)?! Uh..no. Freewill to transcend conflict inducting behavior from the beginning is what we should be striving for.

Re:Now that's what I call... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47448365)

Freewill to transcend conflict inducting behavior from the beginning is what we should be striving for.

Everything can be a conflict. Like your very post being a conflict of ideas on what's proper sexual behavior for a 60-yo mother. In fact, the whole idea of religious zealotry is precisely about the idea of "my religion is the religion of peace, which if everyone just agreed to follow it we wouldn't have conflict" is precisely a form of conflict because it becomes so ridged against outside ideas in some vain hope to transcend conflict. And of course, scientific zealotry, ethical zealotry, cultural zealotry, etc can all be the same as well--religious zealotry is just one that seems to go out of its way to explicitly state its peace objectives and so it's most obviously how badly it fails.

No, I'd tend to argue we should embrace tolerance and embrace non-forceful conflict--the latter of which not for any hope of some sort of resolution but precisely to avoid "animalistic underpinning[s]" that would suggest conversion or death. Hence, I'm glad you made your post. I just disagree with it. :)

Re:Now that's what I call... (1)

Jade_Wayfarer (1741180) | about 5 months ago | (#47449335)

So true. Sorry for not engaging in conflict, but I really have nothing to add here )

Re:Now that's what I call... (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47447027)

I'm not really sure why this whole thing is offensive.

[...]

Hell, I hope that at age 60 I'm still getting some as well, especially from people who are around a third my age.

Sounds more like a fifth, and she should have waited until 90 to do that in order to avoid blackmail. Also, he is implying that your mother's choice of partners might have put someone stupid as a rock in your immediate ancestry.

Reminds me of Alexandre Dumas (père) who, when called a mongrel, retorted:

"It is true. My father was a mulatto, my grandmother was a negress, and my great-grandparents were monkeys. In short, sir, my pedigree begins where yours ends."

Re:Now that's what I call... (1)

ggrocca (1228552) | about 5 months ago | (#47451183)

Don't know if the Dumas quote is apocryphal or not but it made my day nonetheless.

Re:Now that's what I call... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47447205)

pure gold

Re:Now that's what I call... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47447229)

lame

Re:Now that's what I call... (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47447401)

"my Mum had sex. At least once because, you know, I'm here"

Not really, you could be adopted or the result of artificial insemination. It's far from clear.

Re:Now that's what I call... (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 5 months ago | (#47449433)

"my Mum had sex. At least once because, you know, I'm here"

Not really, you could be adopted or the result of artificial insemination. It's far from clear.

Could even be a 'bot for all we know.

Re:Now that's what I call... (0)

rgbatduke (1231380) | about 5 months ago | (#47447469)

Mod up + infinity. ROTFL.

Re:Now that's what I call... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47447481)

"My life's a mess, because under that dress she's got a P-E-N-I-S."

Re:Now that's what I call... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47449655)

Ouch. I think I've sprained my sniggering muscles.

Re:Now that's what I call... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47446963)

I made some waves fucking your mom on my waterbed bitch.

Oh Hi Dad

Re:Now that's what I call... (0)

psnyder (1326089) | about 5 months ago | (#47447501)

That's a swell joke.

Re:Now that's what I call... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47448483)

Allow me to suggest if nobody gave a shit for 60 years, you're experiment is probably not that "astonishing".

Probably just the usual friends of a old Jew trying to establish some kind of legacy despite the said old Jew's inability to achieve it honestly during a 90 year career.

Slow news day? (1, Informative)

pipatron (966506) | about 5 months ago | (#47446941)

What kind of non-story is that? One link points to some guy writing about how some other guys went to study waves at different locations. It doesn't say anything about how they did it, or has any technical information. The other link is a PDF scanned from a paper from 1982. Slow day when you have 32 year old news?

Re:Slow news day? (1)

stoborrobots (577882) | about 5 months ago | (#47447007)

Especially when the most outstanding fact in there is that when waves "interfere", there is no loss of energy of either wave [wikipedia.org] , which is a well-known result in physics...

Re:Slow news day? (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 5 months ago | (#47447175)

Only at low amplitudes, for waves in water. At higher amplitudes non-linear effects become significent. The same applies to sound, and electromagnetic radiation in any medium other than vacuum. You don't see it much because the required amplitudes for that to happen in air are at the retina-scorching level.

Re:Slow news day? (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 5 months ago | (#47447589)

Only at low amplitudes, for waves in water. At higher amplitudes non-linear effects become significent. The same applies to sound, and electromagnetic radiation in any medium other than vacuum. You don't see it much because the required amplitudes for that to happen in air are at the retina-scorching level.

You've apparently never seen Motörhead live.

Re:Slow news day? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47448499)

and electromagnetic radiation in any medium other than vacuum

It happens with E&M within vacuum too, just not in any situation you are likely to find in a lab. High enough energy gamma rays are expected to scatter off of Earth's magnetic field, and slightly lower energy gamma rays can scatter in the extremely strong magnetic field around a magnetar. The relation for photon-photon (or field) scattering from QED has a strong dependence on the photon energy and field strength though, so it only comes up in the most extreme cases.

Re:Slow news day? (2)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 5 months ago | (#47447051)

http://www.surfline.com/surf-s... [surfline.com]

Two somewhat informative videos here - it's the best I got in a quick google.

Re:Slow news day? (2)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 5 months ago | (#47447431)

Because Slashdot.

Editors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47446997)

Why won't you edit?

Re:Editors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47447041)

They get paid the same, either way.

Re:Editors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47447065)

They get paid?

What a clown (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47447223)

He spends his life barking up the wrong three.

Waves isn't a physical thing that propagate over the seas. It's just various forces pushes water molecules, which makes his entire research moot.

Re:What a clown (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47447315)

Waves isn't a physical thing that propagate over the seas.

A wave denier!

Re:What a clown (4, Funny)

aled (228417) | about 5 months ago | (#47447513)

Waves isn't a physical thing that propagate over the seas.

A wave denier!

I don't believe those exist.

Cheap documentary? (4, Interesting)

jandersen (462034) | about 5 months ago | (#47447289)

Could a storm half way across the world produce a patch of moving water that traveled from near the South Pole

This reads like the voice-over for one of those embarrassingly poor 'documentaries' you sometimes see, where the producers have tried to sensationalize a fairly standard, scientific subject, and draw it out to fill a whole hour, when it could have been adequately explained in about 10 minutes. A shame, really, because the subject is in fact quite interesting.

However: waves don't move patches of water half-way around the globe; the actual water more or less stays in place. A wave is simply energy propagating through a medium, and it is quite astonishing to hear that an ocean wave can travel that far without dissipating, because the expectation is that it would spread out in a circular pattern and thus grow weaker with distance. I would have been interested in hearing what the explanation is.

Re:Cheap documentary? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47447355)

In a plane you are correct - they spread and dissipate.

The earth is not a plane - and the curvature will focus the wave after a certain distance is traveled.

Re:Cheap documentary? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47447575)

After 1/4 of the Earth's circumference (6000 miles) the wavefront stops dissipating and starts converging.

Re:Cheap documentary? (1)

jfengel (409917) | about 5 months ago | (#47449427)

Have you got a link with more information? (I did try Googling, but words like "wave" and "sphere" and "converge" are used in too many contexts and they drown out specifics.) How does that work?

Re:Cheap documentary? (4, Informative)

the_other_chewey (1119125) | about 5 months ago | (#47450255)

Just simple geometry:

Imagine a planet completely covered with water. Now throw in a big stone at one of the poles:
This results in a circular wave expanding from the pole, parallel to the latitudes.
As soon as it crosses the equator, it starts converging again, until it arrives as a peak at the
opposite pole.

Distance from pole to equator: circumference/4.

This works with a stone drop at any other point on the globe as well, I just used poles and
equator because it's easier to imagine. In reality, land masses complicate things a bit of course.

Re:Cheap documentary? ^MOD THIS UP!!!!! (1)

spads (1095039) | about 5 months ago | (#47450507)

xx

Re:Cheap documentary? (1)

jfengel (409917) | about 5 months ago | (#47458977)

Oh. Duh. That makes perfect sense, visualized that way. Thanks.

Re:Cheap documentary? (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 5 months ago | (#47449901)

Speaking of planes, could this help us find Malaysian Air 370?

Re:Cheap documentary? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47454787)

Oh for fuck's sake! Your mom uses it as a dildo. I saw it in her room when I was fucking her on that waterbed that other AC fucked her on. Because evidently she is a whore.

Re:Cheap documentary? (2)

tomhath (637240) | about 5 months ago | (#47447377)

waves don't move patches of water half-way around the globe

I suppose it depends on what you mean by "move". The swell (which is different from a wave of water) is moving the water vertically, and the swell did originate thousands of miles away.

Happens every day (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47447763)

To surfers, this is common knowledge. The perfect waves they surf at places like Malibu (southern California) in the summertime are "southern hemi" swells -- swells that originate from powerful southern hemisphere wintertime storms (near Antarctica). The reason these swells can travel so far is the swell period which can be upwards of 20 seconds (that's a lot of energy). The limiting factor isn't distance over open ocean, but merely obstruction from land mass. With little to block the swells on their trajectory, it is certainly possible that a powerful storm under New Zealand can send waves to southern California. In fact, it happens on a regular basis.

What I'm not quite buying is the idea of a wind fetch in the Indian ocean sending a swell to California (or Mexico), since it would be entirely blocked by Australia.

Re:Happens every day (1)

pscottdv (676889) | about 5 months ago | (#47448171)

What I'm not quite buying is the idea of a wind fetch in the Indian ocean sending a swell to California (or Mexico), since it would be entirely blocked by Australia.

Or focused. Just sayin'

Re:Happens every day (2)

Triklyn (2455072) | about 5 months ago | (#47450269)

:) it's probably thanks to this kooky old man gazing at the sea that this is "common knowledge". his experiments ran in the 70s.

Re:Cheap documentary? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47448357)

I'm only guessing but once a wave is created it provides a face for energy to be added to the system by the wind. So while a wave might not be a perpetual motion creation they can keep going and going because energy is added to the system to allow it. That is until they run into something like land.

Re:Cheap documentary? (1)

mikael (484) | about 5 months ago | (#47449989)

It's a feedback system. The wind displaces the flat surface of the ocean into waves. Then those waves catch more wind, create turbulence. You can download or view any number of GPU based ocean wave simulators.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... [youtube.com]

Re:Cheap documentary? (1)

mikael (484) | about 5 months ago | (#47449955)

Look at what happens when an earthquakes occurs in one side of the Pacific, creating a tsunami which travels all the way across the ocean. With a storm over the ocean, the waves can reach 100 meters or more in height, and stretch for hundreds of meters (determined by a mathematical equation linking amplitude to wavelength and ocean floor depth). And the storm is 100 miles across.

Walter Munk (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47447613)

I'm glad this was posted, at least for me. I had the pleasure of meeting him some years ago. I also worked for a scientist who had been a student of his for many years. Munk contributed greatly to the understanding of ocean waves.

Basic Geography FAIL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47447695)

You lost me at "produce a patch of moving water that traveled from near the South Pole,"

The south pole is sitting on top of 9000 feet of ice and under that there is dirt. Ain't no waves anywhere near there.

Ref: Me. Been there done that.

Re:Basic Geography FAIL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47448983)

I think it was well understood to anyone other than your thick self that they meant the coastal waters off of Antarctica. Now stop being so dense like the frozen water near the South Pole.

Clickbait drinking game (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47447743)

"Astonishing" - drink!

He could win both (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47448765)

an Ig Nobel and real Nobel. Andre Geim already did but not for the same work.

Monk, 65 in '82 , is still alive and active (1)

vpness (921181) | about 5 months ago | (#47449753)

What's amazing is that the "paper" was a celebration of Monk's already interesting career ... upon his supposed retirement age at 65. So yes for those who critiqued this as a slow news day, and yes for an old paper, and yes for perhaps obvious news. But how about a celebration of the life of this man, this person, who kept going, starting at 65! I for one hope I could be some small percentage as 'meaningful' for me when I reach the 65 through 95 range!
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