Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Processes have a beginning, a middle and an end.  So do waves.  Many aspects of our lives and of the world can be thought of as waves.  Take a presidential administration.  Energy builds up, reaches a peak and subsides.  Or, a thunderstorm: approaches, peaks, and subsides.  We have waves in water, the kind that strike the shore and the type that spread concentrically from a center where a stone dropped.  We have sound waves and light waves.

Philosophers and Buddhists note that everything changes.  Herodotus said that we can't step into the same river twice.  It is always flowing and changing.  Most of the waves we think of tend to be depicted as uniform, the same height is reached with each peak and the peaks and troughs come along regularly.  However, not all waves or all phenomena are uniform.  Watch the ocean and you will some waves with high energy and strong force and some quieter waves that just ripple.

Sets of waves can interfere with each other.  The wake of one boat may strike the wake of another in just the right way to cancel out each other's energy.  But waves can enhance each other so that the waves from two wakes are more powerful than either would be alone.

I am a wave.  I was born just a little tyke, built up energy and now I am subsiding.  Eventually, my energy will be dissipated and I will return to the quiet state.

Water under the influence of shoreline irregularities, differential heating and cooling, currents of differing temperatures or salinity and other components can move in complex, irregular waves.  The size of the grain harvest year by year or the frequency of hurricanes can be graphed and that graph analyzed as waves and combinations of waves. Time series analysis and Fourier analysis are branches of math that are used to try to find patterns and regularities in what seems irregular and unpredictable.

Prof. Grant Hardy postulated someone sitting at the seashore, watching the waves. He imagined that person saying,"I just love waves.  I want to take one home in a bucket." Such a person would not have a grasp of the flow, the energy waves of this world.

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