21 B
Mathematics Math21b Spring 2017
Linear Algebra and Differential Equations
Monster waves
Course Head: Oliver Knill
Office: SciCtr 432

Monster Waves

Having seen how easy it is to solve wave equations using Fourier theory, here is an enigma for partial differential equations which is not yet solved. It it the question about Monster waves. Discovered in 1995, one estimates that at every moment, about 10-20 monster waves exist on the ocean. These are waves reaching up to 30 meters (90 feet) Whats the problem? The problem is that theory does not give an explanation for their existence. Only up to 15 meter high waves are expected.
Monster waves are dangerous for ships. They are rare, but there are indications that some ship accidents are due to monster waves. Theoretical work is not only scientifically important. Understanding the mechanisms for monster waves could help to predict them or at least to estimate the risks, which is important for insurance companies for example.
A swiss TV coverage has recently dealt with this:

Direct Media Links: Webm, Ogg Ipod,
Here is a footage showing a big wave (still not a monster wave):
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Math21b Harvard College Course ID:110989| Oliver Knill | Spring 2017 | Department of Mathematics | Faculty of Art and Sciences | Harvard University, [Canvas, for admin], Twitter