Big Wave in Nazare Portugal
Big Wave in Nazare Portugal

Big Wave Physics with Kai Lenny

Alohamansurfer, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
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About This Episode

What is the biggest wave in the solar system? Neil deGrasse Tyson and co-hosts Chuck Nice and Gary O’Reilly explore the science of big waves with professional big wave surfer Kai Lenny.

What is a wave? Learn how waves work and what helps determine their size. What makes surfing big waves different? We explore the bathymetry that impacts an area’s waves and the experience of being 60 feet under the surf. 

Learn about hydrofoiling and how to get a surfboard to stick to the bottom of your feet. How do you find a good wave? Is there a way of knowing when a good wave is going to come? We also discuss surf boards, how Kai customizes his equipment, and his work with ocean plastic cleanup.

What’s the largest surfable wave in the solar system? We talk about Interstellar and the tides near black holes. How do you get bigger waves? What’s the biggest swell ever recorded? We explore primordial Earth and the early days of our Moon when Earth tides were at their highest. Finally, could we artificially create our own 100-foot waves? 

Thanks to our Patrons Pepper Horton, annie brown, Lance Cardwell, Natalie waugh, firestorm960, and Daryl Spencer for supporting us this week.

NOTE: StarTalk+ Patrons can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free.

In This Episode

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