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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.

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