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The Science of Surfing

Surfing is more than a wicked summer sport - it's also science in motion!
Surfing

Surfing is way more than a modern fad - it was invented hundreds of years ago by the Pacific islanders of Polynesia. Kidzworld takes a look at the science behind the wettest sport the summer has to offer.

How Waves are Formed

When wind blows over the vast expanses of the open water, it creates waves. Three factors influence how big those waves are - the speed of the wind, distance the wind travels over the water (also known as "fetch") and the length of time it travels for. The biggest waves are created by storms far out at sea. They start out as huge, choppy waves and gradually decline into strong, smooth peaks (swell). The swell drags against the ocean floor as it gets nearer to the beach. That dragging causes friction, which causes the wave to grow taller, slow down and eventually break.

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

The shape of the ocean floor and the direction of the wind are the two main factors that cause a wave to break (crash). The best surfing waves are usually caused by underwater features like sand banks, rocky points or reefs. To get the hollow tubes that surfers love, the ocean floor has to slope steeply. Waves tend to break more gently and farther out if the slope of the ocean floor is gradual. Surfers also prefer it when the wind blows from the beach out to the sea, which is called offshore because it helps to maintain clean waves, which are better to surf. If the wind blows from the ocean to the beach (onshore) or across the beach (cross-shore), it will cause the waves to be messy and choppy.

Riding the Wave

Balance is the key to surfing. The center of gravity is towards the tail of the surfboard. To ride a wave, the surfer has to straddle the center of gravity. If the surfer's weight is too far toward the nose of the board, the board will tip forward and the nose will sink. If the surfer's weight is too far towards the tail, the board will tip and the tail will sink. The surfer wants to catch the wave just as it is breaking, which is when it has maximum velocity (speed). In order to catch the wave, the surfers' momentum must be equal to the wave's momentum. When this happens, the surfer will feel the board being carried along by the wave. The rider stands and uses balance and the shifting of his body weight to control his direction.

Did U Know?

  • Some Australian universities offer degrees in "Surf Science and Technology".
  • Olympic medalist Duke Kahanamoku is often credited as having introduced surfing to the world.
  • Surfboards were originally made of wood but most are now made from polyurethane foam and then wrapped in fiberglass.

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Comments

brunostar

brunostar wrote:

:D
commented: Wed Jun 05, 2013

tenyson

tenyson wrote:

its nice
commented: Sun Jun 03, 2012

XLBlaze

XLBlaze wrote:

It was nice for JORDAN! Stop posting 2 me.... we stopped that day...!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!...
commented: Sun Jun 03, 2012

there are 3 more comments

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AlphaT
AlphaT posted in Debating:
"Teh_Skittlez" wrote: "AlphaT" wrote: "Teh_Skittlez" wrote: I should have known using the confederacy as an example would resonate with you. Like you said, it's another topic, but I could also talk about the Pacific slave trade.  I'm not pro slave, but I am against the south=racist bandwagon. I know you're smart enough to not be on that wagon though. Objection: Relevance? How is Pacific Slave Trade significant to the topic? It affected men and women alike (albeit mostly men)? It's not particularly relevant, it's another topic, that's why I'm not going to talk about it.  Oh. Okay.
reply 6 minutes
Teh_Skittlez
Teh_Skittlez posted in Debating:
"AlphaT" wrote: "Teh_Skittlez" wrote: I should have known using the confederacy as an example would resonate with you. Like you said, it's another topic, but I could also talk about the Pacific slave trade.  I'm not pro slave, but I am against the south=racist bandwagon. I know you're smart enough to not be on that wagon though. Objection: Relevance? How is Pacific Slave Trade significant to the topic? It affected men and women alike (albeit mostly men)? It's not particularly relevant, it's another topic, that's why I'm not going to talk about it. 
reply 7 minutes
AlphaT
AlphaT posted in Debating:
"Teh_Skittlez" wrote:I should have known using the confederacy as an example would resonate with you. Like you said, it's another topic, but I could also talk about the Pacific slave trade.  I'm not pro slave, but I am against the south=racist bandwagon. I know you're smart enough to not be on that wagon though. Objection: Relevance? How is Pacific Slave Trade significant to the topic?
reply 12 minutes
Teh_Skittlez
Teh_Skittlez posted in Debating:
"AlphaT" wrote: "Teh_Skittlez" wrote: "AlphaT" wrote: "Teh_Skittlez" wrote: "AlphaT" wrote: "Teh_Skittlez" wrote: Right, I'm obligated to sign up for the draft, and you couldn't even if you wanted to. Then again, women couldn't own and manage land while married until 1718....and it wasn't national until around 1850. You should probably specify where, because the place where I live wasn't even colonized yet in 1718.  Providence of Pennsylvania. However most states didn't accept it until around 1840-50. Maryland had achieved statehood in 1788, but it took them until 1841 to legalize married women to own property, and even them they had no control over the property. This is the case for many states. Face it, early America treated women as property....she was right on that part. But that's all changed. I'm not denying it. I was merely suggesting that you should specify where. Of course, in all the dates you've listed so far, men were also to be bought and sold as property in the U.S. in the states that would become the Confederacy. I would say that their treatment as property was much harsher than that of women in many cases, but yes, of course both men and women have been treated as property by the law in the past, and still are in many places today.    American Slavery didn't discriminate between genders. And for women, it was the same for blacks and whites. Also, pinning slavery and the confederacy together? I thought you knew more about the topic. But that's another debate. I should have known using the confederacy as an example would resonate with you. Like you said, it's another topic, but I could also talk about the Pacific slave trade. 
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Ghostling
Ghostling posted in Food:
Vegetables=Potatoes. Potatoes=Chips (crisps). Chips=Good.
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