Here comes the wave!
Scientists at Deltares, a research institute in the Netherlands, say that they have created a machine that can produce the largest human-made waves in the world, Science magazine reports.
The enormous model is called the Delta Flume. The water-filled trough is approximately 984 feet long and 16 feet across, and its walls are 31 feet high.
The magazine explains how it works:
At one end sits a gigantic metal plate called a wave board; four pistons move it back and forth to whip up the kind of waves that the sea can unleash. The waves travel along the flume and crash onto whatever researchers have built at the other end—which could include a novel type of dike, an artificial sand dune or gravel beach, or a pylon used to hold up an offshore wind turbine.
So far, the machine has topped out at an 18-foot wave, but researchers hope to go higher.
The machine cost approximately $30 million to construct, and can contain up to 2,400,000 gallons of water, the BBC reports.
Researchers say they will test "wave heights, wave pressures and forces, flow velocities, wave overtopping, damage patterns and changes in cross-sections." They will be able to analyze large water movements as well as smaller ones, between rocks, for example. Findings could lead to new strategies for shoreline protection.
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