Saturday, April 29, 2017

Weird Physical Science

Seven years ago we wrote about boarding a cruise ship that had, the previous night, encountered a rogue wave in the Mediterranean Sea off the west coast of Italy, not far from Naples. We boarded on November 22, 2008, and the wave hit the previous midnight.

The wave broke windows in the buffet of the Grand Princess, located on the top deck over 100 feet above the waterline. And it stopped the ship dead in the water, when it was probably steaming at 16 knots. In spite of some damage, she left Civitavecchia (port of Rome) only a few hours late on the 22nd and did a decent job of the longish cruise we'd booked.

I remind you of this ancient "news" because I just spotted a link at Instapundit to an article about research on rogue waves. Having talked to people who, the night before, rode one out and were thrown about, I know they're no joke. reports:
By precisely controlling the quantum behavior of an ultracold atomic gas, Rice University physicists have created a model system for studying the wave phenomenon that may bring about rogue waves in Earth's oceans.

The research appears this week in Science. The researchers said their experimental system could provide clues about the underlying physics of rogue waves—100-foot walls of water that are the stuff of sailing lore but were only confirmed scientifically within the past two decades. 
With any luck, I'll never actually experience one of these at sea. Hearing about it from survivors was excitement enough.