Lego Man Used to Prove Existence of Rogue Waves

Posted on April 4, 2012

Lego Man Rogue WaveScientists have used a Lego pirate floating in a fish tank to demonstrate how rogue waves can come from nowhere in apparently calm seas and engulf ships. These high-impact monster waves can appear in otherwise tranquil oceans causing danger and sometimes sinking ships.

The research team, led by Professor Nail Akhmediev of the Research School of Physics and Engineering at ANU, working with colleagues from Hamburg University of Technology and the University of Turin have been conducting experiments in nonlinear dynamics, to try and explain rogue waves.

Using a scientific fish tank, a wave generator and a Lego man on a ship floating on the water surface, the scientists were able to demonstrate that rogue waves much bigger than previously thought can occur. The team have labeled these waves as "Super Rogue Waves." They can be up to five times bigger than the other waves around them.

Dr. Akmediev says, "This observation could have far-reaching consequences for our efforts to understand these waves that are, by far, still mysterious. The large amplification of the rogue wave peak above the normal waves around it suggests the existence of a new class of waves - the so-called 'super rogue waves.' Our results show that, even in a sea characterized by small waves, rogue waves can naturally develop due to the nonlinear dynamics of the surface elevation. This is an extraordinary fact that could explain some mysterious observations of rogue waves in calm sea states."

A rogue wave takes out the Lego man at the 38 second mark. Take a look:

This study was published in Physical Review.

Photo: The Australian National University