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The fascinating physics of boat wakes


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If you look at the wake behind a duck, or a kayak, or a ship, you might notice two things: first, it’s a feathery, rippled pattern, and second, that pattern looks the same regardless of whether it’s made by a duck, kayak, or ship— even though they’re all moving at different speeds and the waves are different sizes. How is this possible? Minutephysics digs into the Kelvin wake pattern.

The phenomenon where different wavelength waves travel at different speeds is known as:

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