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Light Swell: Optical rogue waves resemble oceanic ones

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2:09pm, December 12, 2007

Slightly noisy signals can turn into rare large spikes in an optical fiber's output, in much the same way as unpredictable weather conditions occasionally create monstrous, isolated oceanic waves, researchers have found.

The new technique for creating such "rogue waves" in the lab might help physicists understand them as a general phenomenon, in the hope of predicting the risks for vessels at sea.

Rogue waves—waves significantly higher than the local average at a given time—belonged to seafarer lore long before scientists conclusively demonstrated their existence in the mid-1990s.

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