Friday, February 13, 2009

Do we know how freaque waves work?

There are plenty of writings appeared in the media about freaque waves. Most of them can be characterized as ho-hum information recycling. Today I came across the article in "howstuffworks", entitled "How rogue waves work" by Ed Grabianowski, which is a fairly more extensive than usual one. While it's still basically a gathering of well-known things, there's one short paragraph there which I think is more synthesis than recycling:
While scientists have gained a greater understanding of rogue waves in the last decade, they are still quite enigmatic. No one has ever ­filmed the formation of a rogue wave in the ocean or followed one through its entire life cycle. There are very few photographs of rogue waves. For centuries, the best evidence for their existence was anecdotal -- the countless stories told by sailors who had survived one.
It's a good summarization of the state of the art of freaque waves researches today. Yes, it is still enigmatic, we really have no idea what life cycle a freaque has. But no one seems to be interested in investing in systematic measurements to find out what is really going on out there either. Academic types only interested in their theoretical formulations, ship building and cruise companies are contended to let insurance to take care of their deficiencies, and governments certainly have no concern with damages that generally not raised to the disaster level.

I guess Grabianowski noticed the symptoms but, like everyone else, did not think it's a major drawback. At least he did spelled it out unwittingly. At any rate, it will be a long time before we'll able to really know, beyond conjecture, how freaque waves work!

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