- Frozen Man
- Bullet Journal
- Why It’s So Hard to Go against the Grain?
- Why Do Traffic Signs Look The Way They Do?
- Pi Number
- The Shape of Water
- Where did the meteorites go?
- The Physics Of Surfing
- Why Every City Has Its Own Climate?
- Instant Noodles
- The Coming Renaissance
- Paracelsus: Alchemy to the Aid of Medicine
- History of Coins
- Why do waterfalls retreat?
Where Do the Ocean’s Waves Come From?
Waves are born far away from the coast, in the open ocean where storms and strong winds blow. Wind travels from high-pressure zones to low-pressure zones. In the ocean, these areas are separated by many miles, so the wind blows over a very large area. Where the air touches the surface of the water, the atmospheric molecules make contact with the liquid molecules and transmit some of the wind energy to them. At first, they create only a tiny disturbance— capillary waves that can be calmed by the surface tension of the water alone. But if the wind continues to blow, the capillary waves work like sails, collecting more and more energy and increasing in size. At a certain point, they become so large that the perturbation resists not the tension of the water surface but gravity itself; such waves are called gravitational. In a storm zone, the ocean is like a boiling soup in which gravitational waves of different sizes move randomly.
The energy that the water receives does not stand still but moves in the same direction as the wind blows. Additionally, the energy builds up. Its final value in the ocean depends on three factors: the stronger the wind, the larger the area over which it blows, and the longer this effect lasts, the more energy the water will receive as a result. For example, if the storm itself moves in the same direction as the wind, it follows the movement of energy in the water, fueling and increasing it. When the storm subsides or turns, the energy of the ocean continues its movement in the specified direction, and this is when a swell begins to form.