Tow Surfers and Test Pilots

October 28, 2010

“A wave might seem to be a simple thing, but in fact it’s the most complicated form in nature,” Susan Casey writes.

In The Wave, the author recounts an experience at a symposium in Maui, after a session about storm surge behavior, when she encountered two scientists in the lobby.

At the break I went outside, where I ran into Dave Levinson and John Marra, another scientist…. When Levinson introduced me and described my project, Marra had a question. “Those guys who want to launch their melons off a hundred-foot wave,” he said, “are they mentally ill?”

“Does that mean you think it can’t be done?” I asked.

“I don’t know the phase speed of a hundred-foot wave,” he said, turning serious in an instant and citing advanced math theory about breaking waves. “I’d have to actually calculate the celerity. I don’t see why not, I guess—if you’re moving fast enough. But is it human nature to want to do that?”

I defended the tow surfers’ sanity for a few moments, then steered the subject to climate change….”

I asked Casey, “How did you defend the tow surfers? What did you tell the scientists?”

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Coming soon
David Rakoff, Alex Ross, Steve Almond, and more.

More Susan Casey
The Wave book trailer (video)
Nightline (video)
Good Morning America (video)
The Gayle King Show (audio)
Wall Street Journal interview
Esquire interview
Cosmopolitan interview
USA Today
San Francisco Chronicle
New York Times
Men’s Journal


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