What: UC San Diego freshmen will conduct a wave-riding experiment to study the physical properties at work when surfers paddle to catch waves at one of San Diego's finest surf breaks. The field experiment is part of a UC San Diego freshman seminar class titled "The Physics of Surfing," taught by Professor David Sandwell of UCSD's Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
When: Saturday, May 2, 2009, 8:30 a.m.
Where: Scripps Pier, 8648 Kennel Way, La Jolla, Calif. (formally Discovery Way)
Who: David Sandwell, professor of geophysics at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego; Stefan Llewellyn Smith, associate professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering; and UC San Diego freshman students.
UC San Diego freshman will set up a wave-riding experiment to study the physical properties at work when surfers paddle to catch waves at one of San Diego's finest surf breaks.
Why: Professors Sandwell and Smith, along with students, use a GPS device and an accelerometer, a device that measures speed, to study the physics behind surfing. A student volunteer rides a surfboard into the waves while the devices measure speed and acceleration. Following the experiment, students analyze the data to determine the physical properties, such as speed, velocity and friction as the board and rider move with the wave.
The course is part of the university's freshmen seminars program, which allows students to explore interesting topics and introduces them to research methods. Students learn about the physical forces creating waves and the laws of fluid mechanics that govern how surfboards move through water.
The freshman seminar covers three topics in physics related to surfing: 1) generation, propagation and breaking of waves; 2) the energetics of a surfer riding a wave; and 3) the fluid mechanics of a surfboard and includes topics such as "Wave Refraction: What Makes Black's so Good," in reference to the famous Black's Beach in La Jolla, Calif.
Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, is one of the oldest, largest, and most important centers for global science research and education in the world. Now in its second century of discovery, the scientific scope of the institution has grown to include biological, physical, chemical, geological, geophysical, and atmospheric studies of the earth as a system. Hundreds of research programs covering a wide range of scientific areas are under way today on every continent and in every ocean. The institution has a staff of more than 1,400 and annual expenditures of approximately $195 million from federal, state, and private sources. Scripps operates oceanographic research vessels recognized worldwide for their outstanding capabilities. Equipped with innovative instruments for ocean exploration, these ships constitute mobile laboratories and observatories that serve students and researchers from institutions throughout the world. Birch Aquarium at Scripps serves as the interpretive center of the institution and showcases Scripps research and a diverse array of marine life through exhibits and programming for more than 430,000 visitors each year. Learn more at scripps.ucsd.edu and follow us at Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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