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Wave Orbitals micro-lesson

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Learning time​

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This lesson is about the physics of wave orbitals. When I talk about surf waves, I'm actually talking about breaking waves which is the point where the wave gets this little whitewashed and breaks in one direction. Here's where the power allows the surfer to ride it. But what creates this little whitecap? There's something in physics called wave orbitals and this is how the momentum of the wave creates the breaking wave. Think of waves traveling towards the shore. Gravity and wind act together to push the waves forward without losing energy. Wind pushes the waves forward, but gravity also keeps them from getting too high or too low, and that is part of why they have the shape of a wavelength. As the wavelengths get to shallower ocean floors, they interact with the shallow ocean bottom, and this is what creates the waves we like to surf. The reef or sandy bottom disrupts the orbital shape and causes the wave to break or form a whitecap like this. This is what causes the wave to break into a fun surf wave.

Examples of 1Question Maths Questions

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  • How does the orbital change shapes as it hits the ocean floor?

    1) It turns into an oval and then into a wave shape
    2) It doesn't change shape
    3) It gets shorter
    4) It gets wider
  • The reef or sandy bottom disrupts the orbital shape and causes the wave to... ?

    1) Break
    2) Keep its shape
    3) Travel towards the shore
    4) Lose energy
  • As the wavelengths get to shallower ocean floors, they interact with the shallower ocean bottom and this creates... ?

    1) Breaking waves/surf waves
    2) The whitecap
    3) The wave orbital
    4) Refraction
  • What is the wave called when it forms a little white cap at the top?

    1) Breaking wave
    2) Wavelength
    3) Wave orbital
    4) Surf wave
  • Which is the wave called that surfers like to surf because it has the most power?

    1) Breaking wave
    2) Wavelength
    3) Wave orbital
    4) Surf wave
  • What keeps waves from going too high up and down?

    1) Gravity
    2) Wind
    3) Shallow ocean bottom
    4) Wave orbitals

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Meet your educator

Our micro-courses are developed and delivered by qualified educators from around the world.

Sarah Sanchez Medrano

Sarah Sanchez Medrano

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