Waves by Fredric Raichlen
(MIT Press Essential Knowledge)

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Sitting on the beach on a sunny summer day, we enjoy the steady advance and retreat of the waves. In the water, enthusiastic waders jump and shriek with pleasure when a wave hits them. But where do these waves come from? How are they formed and why do they break on the shore? In Waves, Fredric Raichlen traces the evolution of waves, from their generation in the deep ocean to their effects on the coast. He explains, in a way that is readily understandable to nonscientists, both the science of waves themselves and the technology that can be used to protect us against their more extreme forms, including hurricanes and tsunamis. After offering a basic definition of waves and explaining the mechanics of wind-wave generation, Raichlen describes how waves travel, how they shoal (rise), how they break, and how they transform in other ways. He goes on to describe, among other things, the complicated sun-Earth-moon combinations that create astronomical tides (the high and low tides that occur daily and predictably); the effects of waves on the beach, including rip currents and beach erosion, and on harbors and shipping; and the building of breakwaters to protect harbors and bays. He discusses hurricanes, storm surges, and hurricane-generated waves. He offers a brief history of tsunamis, including Sumatra's in 2004 and Japan's in 2011, and explains the mechanisms that generate them (including earthquakes, landslides, and volcanoes). Waves can be little ripples that lap peacefully at the shore or monstrous tsunamis that destroy everything in their paths. Describing the science underlying this astonishing variety, Waves offers a different kind of beach reading.

About Fredric Raichlen

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Fredric Raichlen, an expert on coastal engineering and wave mechanics, is Professor of CivilEngineering and Mechanical Engineering, Emeritus at Caltech.
Published October 19, 2012 by The MIT Press. 256 pages
Genres: Nature & Wildlife, Professional & Technical, Science & Math. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Waves

The Wall Street Journal

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A guide to ocean waves and a survey of the universe from large to small.

Dec 28 2012 | Read Full Review of Waves (MIT Press Essential Kn...

City Book Review

Fredric Raichlen, professor emeritus of civil engineering and mechanical engineering at Caltech, describes and classifies waves in a most distinct manner in his new book, Waves.

Apr 12 2013 | Read Full Review of Waves (MIT Press Essential Kn...

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