Can We See Rogue Waves Coming?
They've given rise to indie band names and tales of death at sea, but could rogue waves—seemingly random ocean events that exceed 60 feet in height—actually be predictable? Not quite, Tim Janssen says, but he might be able to tell where they are the most likely to form.
Janssen, a professor of geosciences at San Francisco State University, found that under normal circumstances, about 3 waves in 10,000 summon enough fury to earn the moniker "rogue." But in "focal zones," areas where the ocean's energy concentrates in one place, that tally can rise tenfold to 3 in 1,000. There are plenty of places in the ocean where currents converge, and in some places a steep change in the depth of the ocean floor focuses the power of the water with even more intensity.
The best surfing beaches in the world feature some of this kind of geography; that's why their big waves are so reliable. So Janssen, a keen surfer, had a pet interest in this work. But there's the dark side, too—rogue waves are a threat to the shipping industry today, and not just the ghosts of lore. His work could map for shippers the places where rogue waves are the likeliest, and where they might be wise to avoid.
Leave it to science to unravel the mythology of the sea. But, as any seasoned sailor would say, you never know exactly what to expect from the ocean.
Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.
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Can sensitive coral reefs survive another human generation?
- Coral reefs may not be able to survive another human decade because of the environmental stress we have placed on them, says author David Wallace-Wells. He posits that without meaningful changes to policies, the trend of them dying out, even in light of recent advances, will continue.
- The World Wildlife Fund says that 60 percent of all vertebrate mammals have died since just 1970. On top of this, recent studies suggest that insect populations may have fallen by as much as 75 percent over the last few decades.
- If it were not for our oceans, the planet would probably be already several degrees warmer than it is today due to the emissions we've expelled into the atmosphere.
Yes, a coup d'état.
- Though we know today that his policies eventually ended the Great Depression, FDR's election was seen as disastrous by some.
- A group of wealthy bankers decided to take things into their own hands; they plotted a coup against FDR, hoping to install a fascist dictator in its stead.
- Ultimately, the coup was brought to light by General Smedley Butler and squashed before it could get off the ground.
Michael Dowling, Northwell Health's CEO, believes we're entering the age of smart medicine.
- The United States health care system has much room for improvement, and big tech may be laying the foundation for those improvements.
- Technological progress in medicine is coming from two fronts: medical technology and information technology.
- As information technology develops, patients will become active participants in their health care, and value-based care may become a reality.
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