The Water Doesn’t Move

If you surf, you know the thrill of catching a wave. Even body surfing affords this exhilarating feeling. You learn to feel the pull of the wave, time your effort, kick, swim, and ride the crest to the shore. Something you may know but don’t think about is that the wave is pushing you, not the water. When waiting for a wave to catch, you remain more or less in the same spot. It’s the undertow and tide that’s moving the water, the water is just the medium that the wave is moving through.

A point on a bicycle wheel only moves at the same velocity as the bicycle when it is exactly in the 9 and 3 o’clock positions. When the point moves from 9 o’clock to 3 o’clock, it travels faster than the velocity of the bicycle, when it moves from 3 to 9 o’clock, slower. When you pedal a bicycle at 25 kph, any point on the wheel is either traveling faster or slower more often than the speed you and the bicycle are traveling. The velocity of this point, if graphed, is a wave.

When the sun is photographed at the same time each day it creates a shape when the multiple images are laid on top of each other. The shape called an analemma. It is very similar to the numeral eight laid on a 45-degree angle, more akin to the shape that we use to represent the concept of infinity. The bottom loop is a bit smaller than the bottom one, but the shape is dependence on your position of latitude. When I saw this image, I made a connection with nature and the relationship of the orbit of the earth around the sun. While the earth and sun have a finite existence, the length of their existence is nearly incomprehensible to us. If we graph this shape and use the X axis as time, we again get a wave shape.

Myth has it that the gentle beating wings of a butterfly in Africa create the initial disturbance that eventually becomes a powerful hurricane in the Atlantic. How can such small things when looked at in greater detail either get lost in the big picture or be so integral to the whole? When floating on the surface of the ocean, we are bobbing on the peaks and troughs of waves; when observing a bicycle, it travels at a constant velocity while the velocity of a point on the wheel is constantly changing relative to the velocity of the bicycle which can be represented by a wave; the shape the sun traces in the sky as the earth orbits the sun can be represented graphically as a wave. How great is the improbably that the beating wings of a butterfly create a hurricane hundreds of miles in diameter, with winds in excess of 160kph?

Sound is a vibration. It is an acoustic wave that transmits through a medium such as gas, liquid, or solid. The air doesn’t move and the sound we create and call music or art is intangible. It is electromagnetic energy. Vibrations. Waves. Just like the current unifying theory of the universe, string theory, where the vibrations of the strings determine the state of the universe.

We are the water; the music we create is a wave that washes over us. We are the bicycle; our velocity is constant, the wheel’s always changing. We are the earth; the sun’s orbit traces its path in the sky. A butterfly beats its wings; a hurricane blows in faraway land.

Bottom Line: Catch the wave, surf the groove to the shore.

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