Computer Science

Earth Science









Sign-up for FTK Bulletin

Earth Science

Science of Surfing

LA JOLLA, Calif. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Just a few more weeks to enjoy the warm weather … and some schools are taking advantage of their students' love for the beach -- to give them a little lesson in physics. Some students are getting more than they bargained for.

You need Flash Player 8 or higher to view video content with the ROO Flash Player. Click here to download and install it.

It looks like fun -- the sun, the surf … but did you know there’s a science behind it?

Geophysicist David Sandwell is a surfer as well as a professor at Scripps Institute of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif. He’s using what he knows out on the water to get kids psyched about physics.

“We first look at how waves are generated and then how they propagate across the ocean, and how they land here on the beach," Dr. Sandwell told Ivanhoe.

They use GPS instruments connected to surfers as well as the surfboards to conduct research projects.

“I think the biggest surprises are related to how data is collected and how you do an experiment, how you deal with numbers," Dr. Sandwell said.

They find out what it takes to make a good wave, including a theory they test out -- that the speed of the waves is the square root of the depth of the water when the waves break.

“I tell the students that once they take this class, it may ruin their surfing experience," Dr. Sandwell said. "They’ll not only be thinking about surfing, but they’ll be thinking about where the waves are coming from, why they come in sets and how fast they can go.”

The American Geophysical Union, the American Meteorological Society, the American Association of Physics Teachers, and the American Physical Society contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.

Click here to Go Inside This Science or contact:

Prof. David T. Sandwell
Scripps Inst. of Oceano
La Jolla, CA 92093-0225
(858) 534-7109

Peter Weiss
American Geophysical Union
Washington, DC 20009-1277
(800) 966-2481

American Meteorological Society
Boston, MA 02108-3693
(617) 227-2425

American Association of Physics Teachers
College Park, MD
(301) 209-3311

James Riordon, Media Relations
American Physical Society
College Park, MD
(301) 209-3238

This Month's TV Reports
Hot Helmet for Football Players

Each year an athlete dies on the field from overheating. Now a new helmet protects more than players heads…it could save their life.


Beware of Flash Floods

Flash floods kill more than a hundred people a year. Now there’s a new campaign to keep you safe -- “Turn around—Don’t Drown”.


Which Days will Storms Strike?

Should you plan your picnic on Wednesday or Saturday? Which day will the sun shine? Which day will it rain? Science breaks down which days of the week are the best to be outside.


Bed Bug Sniffing Dogs

You’ve heard of bomb sniffing dogs … now Fido can find bed bugs!


Stem Cells Save Animals

Stem cells research is just beginning in humans, and now horses and dogs are getting the benefit of this research as stem cells are being used to help ease their pain.


Giant Squid-Behind the Scenes

Get a first-hand look at a rare giant squid! We’ll show how science is working to preserve it forever.


Super Mileage Cars

Imagine a car getting 1,000 MPG! It’s happening! Take a ride in some of the most fuel efficient cars in the world.


Blood Test Predicts Stroke

Every 40 seconds someone in the US suffers a stroke. Now a new blood test is helping doctors diagnose people with hidden risks.


Catching Cataracts Early

A new device detects early stage cataracts…saving sight for millions.


Frying Foods without Oil

A french fry that’s not fried? A new oven is changing the way we cook fried foods…making them healthier for all of us!.


Science of Surfing

Surfing—it’s more than just fun in the sun! It’s now a college class that’s teaching students the science behind hangin’ 10.


Got (Video) Game

Turn your gaming hobby into a career. Meet two college kids who turned their passion into a money-maker.


Prior Reports
A joint production of Ivanhoe Broadcast News and the American Institute of Physics.
  Ivanhoe Broadcast News
2745 West Fairbanks Avenue
Winter Park, Florida 32789
(407) 740-0789

American Institute of Physics
One Physics Ellipse
College Park, MD 19740-3843
(301) 209-3100
  P.O. Box 865
Orlando, Florida 32802
  © 2009 Ivanhoe Broadcast News, Inc.