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Rogue waves, tsunamis and solitons
Wed, 10 May 2017, 18:00
A public lecture by
Peter Clarkson, University 0f Kent
In 1834, John Scott Russell, a Scottish engineer, naval architect and shipbuilder, first observed a solitary wave whilst riding on horseback beside the narrow Union canal near Edinburgh. Scott Russell did extensive experiments in a laboratory scale wave tank in order to study the phenomenon he had observed. Subsequently, in the nineteenth century French, English and Dutch scientists undertook studies related to the solitary wave observed by Scott Russell.
It was not until the 1960's when scientists began to use modern computers, that Russell's ideas began to be fully appreciated. In 1965, Zabusky and Kruskal's numerical calculations led them to call these solitary waves "solitons". Subsequently it has been discovered that solitons arise in numerous applications such as water waves and fibre optics. Phenomena such as rogue waves (also known as freak waves), which are large unexpected, suddenly appearing waves that can be extremely dangerous, and tsunamis are related to solitons.
In this talk, I shall describe some of the history of the soliton and illustrate some of the applications.
Doors open at 17:30. The talk will be followed by an informal reception to which all ticket holders are invited.
[Image from Nature v. 376, 3 Aug 1995, pg 373. It shows a re-creation of Scott Russell's 'first' sighting of a soliton or solitary wave on the Union Canal, part of an international conferenece on solitons in 1995 at Heriot Watt University and part of a ceremony to name a new aqueduct after John Scott Russell. The aqueduct carries the Union Canal over the Edinburgh City Bypass.]