The Mechanics Of Rhythm, Part 1

The Mechanics Of Rhythm, Part 1

By Drew Kampion

Ocean waves are among the earth’s most complicated natural phenomena, yet when we picture waves in the abstract, our minds might conjure an image of the perfect concentric ripples that echo the point of entry of a pebble into smooth pond waters. Those waves – the ideal waves of our conceptual imagination – are elongated sinusoidal oscillations, and although they do exist in relatively pure form in controlled conditions, they are not likely to be found in the more complex ocean environment. This is why waves are usually studied in laboratory tanks, where a single train of waves can be generated and where the mechanics of wave motion can be isolated and simplified.

Ocean waves and laboratory waves share the same basic features: a crest (the highest point of the wave), a trough (the lowest point), a height (the vertical distance from the trough to the crest), a wave length (the horizontal distance between two wave crests, and a period (the time it takes for a wave crest to travel one wave length).

Standing on a pier or jetty, or sitting astride a surfboard, the swift approach of an ocean wave gives the impression of a wall of water moving in your direction. In actuality, although the wave is moving toward you, the water is not. If the water were moving with the wave, the ocean and everything on it would be racing into the shore with catastrophic results. Instead, the wave moves through the water, leaving the water about where it was.

Next week, look for  “The Mechanics Of Rhythm, Part 2”


DREW KAMPION is the author of ”The Book of Waves” ”The Art of Christian Riese Lassen”, and ”Stoked: A History of Surf Culture”, the number-one selling book on the history of surf. He is a regular contributor to The Surfer’s Journal, Adrenalin, Longboard, and many other magazines. His website features some of his abundant and thoughtful work.

This photograph is by Los Angeles based artist CHRIS WILDER. He is represented by LIGHTBOX Gallery. You can see more of his exceptional work by clicking here.



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  1. [...] Read the original here: Lucky Fortuna Daily: A Bright Spot For Our Soddy Times » The … [...]

  2. Hola,
    Interesante, no va a continuar con este artнculo?


  3. Si! This article will be continued. Part 2 has been posted!