Academic journal article Science and Children

Capturing "Rogue Waves"

Academic journal article Science and Children

Capturing "Rogue Waves"

Article excerpt

Maritime folklore tells tales of giant "rogue waves" that can appear and disappear without warning in the open ocean. Also known as "freak waves," these ominous monsters have been described by mariners for ages and have appeared prominently in many legendary literary works from Homer's Odyssey to Robinson Crusoe.

Once dismissed by scientists as fanciful sailors' stories akin to sea monsters and uncharted inlands, recent observations have shown that they are real phenomenon, capable of destroying even large modern ships. However, this mysterious phenomenon has continued to elude researchers, as human-made rogue waves have not been reported in scientific literature, in water, or in any other medium.

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles'(UCLA), Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have succeeded in creating and capturing rogue waves. In their research, they have discovered optical rogue waves, freak, brief pulses of intense light analogous to the infamous oceanic monsters propagating through optical fiber. The findings appear in the journal Nature.

It is thought that rogue waves are a nonlinear, perhaps chaotic phenomenon, able to develop suddenly from seemingly innocuous normal waves. While the study of rogue waves has focused on oceanic systems and water-based models, light waves traveling in optical fibers obey very similar mathematics to water waves traveling in the open ocean, making it easier to study them in a laboratory environment. …

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