Thursday, April 25, 2013

Dark soliton?

About two weeks ago, United-Academics magazine published the following story about "Dark Solitons" that entitled "Dark Solitons Demonstrated For the First Time":

In physics and math there are wave structures called solitons (notsolutions) that are defined as self-contained packets or pulses.  Two types of solitons that have long been of interest in the world of scientific research are bright and dark solitons.  Until recently, only bright solitons have been successfully demonstrated in a wave tank.  This month a team of researchers at Imperial College London, including mathematician Amin Chabchoub, successfully created an example of a dark soliton in water.  Their actions bring important new information that will impact the world of optics, oceanography, and beyond. 
In the context of the ocean, waves evolve in that familiar manner as they as ebb and flow. Solitons, on the other hand, somehow manage to keep a constant size and shape.  They also travel more slowly than regular waves. In the 60′s and 70′s oceanographers observed bright solitons in the deep sea, later successfully recreating them in a laboratory setting.  Their work revealed that bright solitons are the cause of, among other phenomena, rogue waves that occur at sea. It was then theorized that dark solitons must be capable of the opposite- decreasing the power of a wave. 
Using a 17 meter long wave tank, Dr. Chabchoub and his team simulated wave formations as they passed through dark solitons.  What they found was that, indeed, there was a reduction in the amplitude of the waves.  With this result the team now wants to investigate what happens when bright and dark solitons come together. Their hope is that if they continue down this current path, this information could help coastal regions better deal with large waves caused by extreme weather or earthquakes.  Today’s dark soliton experiments in a laboratory could become tomorrow’s anti-tsunami safety system.

Their source was this article in Physics World with this impressive figure that called "dark dip".

Illustration of a dark soliton

I think the key sentence that may get everyone excited is this one:
Their actions bring important new information that will impact the world of optics, oceanography, and beyond.
I guess oceanographers and ocean wave scientists would be interested. But, but, BUT, I just failed to see there's any real ocean wave connection here that can be translated the theory to the real ocean, especially deep-trough kind of freaque waves in the ocean are not uncommon. Obviously theoreticians do need this ocean implication to justify their far out theoretical mumbo-jumble could have some sort of real world usefulness, but what, where, and how it can be done are still the unanswerable questions every time a new theory came around to make this conjecture and this one this time is certainly no exception.  There is as yet just no conceivable road way to link between theoretical ivory tower and the real ocean -- an unavoidable fact that no theoretical gurus would care to face!!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A rogue wave, a freak wave, or something!

This recently happened tragic case in Gulf of Mexico SE of Galveston, Texas is nicely summarized by Marc Lallanilla, Assistant Editor of as reported in the Yahoo!News:

The U.S. Coast Guard announced on Sunday (April 21) that it was suspending the search for four fishermen whose boat is believed to have been destroyed by a rogue wave.
The 50-foot Nite Owl vessel was tied to an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico about 115 miles (185 kilometers) southeast of Galveston, Texas, in rough weather on Friday morning (April 19), according to the Associated Press .
But in the early morning darkness, "a rogue wave, a freak wave or something hit the side of the boat," John Reynolds, the sole survivor of the accident, told the AP.
The wave "tore the wheel house and canopy off the boat," Larry Moore, owner of the commercial fishing vessel, told the Beaumont Enterprise from his home in Golden Meadow, La. "Everyone was asleep when it happened." The shattered craft sank within two minutes." [Shipwrecks Gallery: Secrets of the Deep]
Rogue waves, sometimes called "freak waves," are extremely large waves that occur far out at sea in apparent isolation and without any obvious cause. The waves can easily reach 100 feet (30 meters) or more in height.
Though researchers have yet to understand how rogue waves develop, some scientists claim atmospheric pressure may play a role. Other research suggests rogue waves could result from the clash of two interacting wave systems traveling perpendicular to each other.
After a possible rogue wave destroyed the Nite Owl, all five men aboard were thrown into the choppy water without life jackets.
Though Reynolds tried to help the other men into the life raft he found, his efforts were thwarted by the rough sea's 12-foot (3.7 m) waves and his crewmates' poor swimming ability, he said.
 "I got in the raft. I heard them call out. There was a little ring inside there with a 60-foot line on it," Reynolds told the AP. "I threw it in the direction I heard [a crewmate] hollering from, hoping he could grab a hold of it and pull himself to the life raft. Apparently, he couldn't get a hold of it."
Reynolds, 56, was rescued by the Coast Guard later that morning after firing flares into the air. Though he has worked as a commercial fisherman for 35 years, Reynolds told the Beaumont Enterprise that this was the first time he had ever ended up in the water.
The key information is clearly what the sole survivor told AP: "A rogue wave, a freak wave, or something hit the side of the boat!" But the scary part has to be that the boat was tied to an oil rig and still only one was lucky to be near a life raft.  The oil rig was obviously survived, but 5 lives lost unfortunately.  May they all rest in peace now. This is another case that science will not able to do anything to help!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Surfing at Cribbar

For us outsiders who may not ever heard Cribbar, Wikipedia has this to tell about Cribbar completes with map location:
The Cribbar (English: Ploughed Reef), also known as the Widow Maker, is a reef off the Towan Headland in Newquay, Cornwall, United Kingdom.
The Cribbar is best known for creating annual big waves, popular with experienced big wave surfers from across the world. Wave faces can be in excess of 30 ft (9.1 m). The Zorba is a reef 2 miles (3.2 km) further off the coast and can create even higher waves.
Now here's an article in today's UK Daily Mail showing a series of photos and a video along with this:
They call it the Bone Cruncher, and sometimes the Widow Maker - a rare 20ft swell that comes crashing down on the Cornish coastline.
Only the bravest surfers are willing to take it on - and that's exactly what this daredevil succeeded in doing yesterday.
These images show the solitary surfer had a clear path ahead as he rode on the crest of the infamous Cribbar wave.
The swell became the stuff of legend in 1966 when three visiting Australian surfers stumbled upon it. 

So in north America the spring is still not quite arriving yet, surfing in other part of the globe is already started! Have a strong, satisfactory, and of course safe, surfing year!