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New Software Could Warn Sailors of Rogue Waves

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the that's-no-wave dept.

Software 131

Reservoir Hill writes "Sailors have been telling stories for centuries about monstrous ocean waves that tower over a hundred feet in the air and toss ships around like corks. While these were once dismissed as nautical myth, but a few years back synthetic aperture radar from ESA's ERS satellites helped establish the existence of these 'rogue' waves and study their origins. Such waves were far more common than anyone had expected. Now a researcher in Madrid has developed software that can detect rogue waves from radar images, with the possibility of providing advance warning to ships at sea. The software uses a mathematical model to evaluate and process the spatial and temporal dimensions of waves inferred from the interaction between the radar's electromagnetic energy and the sea surface. The result is displayed in a color-coded image."

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This is hardly new... (2, Funny)

3waygeek (58990) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465697)

Rogue Wave Software [roguewave.com] has existed since 1989.

Ha! Ha! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21465777)

U r teh funny!!!!!!!!!11111oneone

Re:This is hardly new... (1)

Gyppo (982168) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465959)

Their software is crap. Their music [roguewavemusic.com] is much better.

Re:This is hardly new... (1)

spectral (158121) | more than 6 years ago | (#21466029)

Having had to deal with their stuff, I really wish something had been around to warn me back then.

Tsunami (1)

Drakin020 (980931) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465703)

So this could help with tsunami warnings right?

Re:Tsunami (5, Informative)

RogueyWon (735973) | more than 6 years ago | (#21466305)

Not necessarily.

Tsunamis and Rogue Waves are very different. If you'll forgive the generalisations; Tsunamis are mostly caused by events which result in the displacement of large quantities of water, such as earthquakes, landslides and asteroid impacts. They travel for hundreds, or even thousands of miles and cover a wide area of the sea. Their speed and height is heavily dependent upon the depth of the water - in deep water, they can travel at hundreds of miles per hour, but, crucially, may be no more than a few inches high. Ships can pass over them without ever realising they've done so. When they hit shallower water, the wave grows. However, what does the damage with tsunamis is not the height of the wave, per se, as the sheer amount of water behind it. The Boxing Day Tsumani that caused so much devastation a couple of years ago was only about 30 feet high when it hit land in many places - well within the range for a storm wave at the high end of the normal scale. However, the "wave" you see with a tsumani is just the front end of a huge body of water, with a vast amount of momentum. When a tsunami hits, it is as though the water level in the area affected has just jumped up to the height of the top of the incoming wave. This is obviously devastating, as it causes massive flooding and hugely powerful movements of water that can go miles inland.

Rogue waves, on the other hand, are essentially "surface" waves. The causes vary (winds running counter to currents is one cause, but there are others), but they have, in most respects, more in common with a storm wave than a tsunami. Their shape resembles that of a "breaking" wave when it hits the shore (although this is quite different from the "rolling" shape of a wave in the middle of the ocean) and there is no huge mass of water behind the wave itself. However, the height of a rogue wave is truly terrifying - essentially up to 100 feet - twice the size of the largest storm waves you could normally expect to encounter. Rogue waves are so dangerous to ships because their size and shape ensures that the pressure they exert on a ship they hit is way beyond what would normally be expected and designed for. However, they are rare and short-lived. The waves will usually be no more than a mile or two long and will run for about 10 miles or so on average.

The system discussed in TFA appears to be a radar based system. It works by picking up very, very large waves on radar and warning the crew of a ship caught in the path (giving them time to prepare and turn the ship to meet the wave). However, tsunamis would not show up on radar in mid-ocean and only the ultra-rare megatsunamis (which can occur either in an enclosed bay which suffers a massive land-slide, or on a broader scale when a truly massive asteroid impact or landslide occurs) would ever reach the height of a freak wave. Tsunami detection is likely better left to seismic monitoring and pressure sensors.

Re:Tsunami (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 6 years ago | (#21466361)

The system discussed in TFA appears to be a radar based system. It works by picking up very, very large waves on radar and warning the crew of a ship caught in the path (giving them time to prepare and turn the ship to meet the wave). However, tsunamis would not show up on radar in mid-ocean and only the ultra-rare megatsunamis (which can occur either in an enclosed bay which suffers a massive land-slide, or on a broader scale when a truly massive asteroid impact or landslide occurs) would ever reach the height of a freak wave. Tsunami detection is likely better left to seismic monitoring and pressure sensors.
If I had the points, I would have modded you up.

It does surprise me that this would be news, if I understand correctly the Arthur Anderson identified 2 of them about the time that the Edmund Fitzgerald foundered, that was just over 30 years ago. Seems to me that this kind of thing should have been figured out and properly done years ago.

It does surprise me that the other products wouldn't have more or less been perfected in terms of identification.

Re:Tsunami (1)

ixtapa (903468) | more than 6 years ago | (#21466877)

if there was ever a time for "ridiculously informative" moderation, this would be it.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21465705)

Wouldn't it be a lot easier just to halt the global climate change that's causing catastrophic seaward events like these? You know, efficiency mandates and stuff so people look a few seconds into the future and buy a CFL instead of the "cheaper" incandescents? Maybe get SUVs off the road (who needs them?), get more people into hybrids ... It requires sacrifice, but it's a hell of a lot easier than applying all these patch solutions all the time.

Hey, I'm just puttin it out there...

Re:Correct me if I'm wrong, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21465781)

These events occurred long before global climate change and have nothing to do with it. Tales of these date back to time of Columbus.

BTW, my job (field chemist) requires a SUV or truck, so please shut up and stop acting like you have any idea about peoples needs.

Re:Correct me if I'm wrong, but... (1)

W2k (540424) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465795)

You are probably just a stupid troll, but I'll bite: these waves have nothing to do with climate change. Read the fscking article. Rogue waves like these have been sinking ships for centuries.

Re:Correct me if I'm wrong, but... (0)

Vthornheart (745224) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465809)

Who was saying it was climate change? I didn't see anyone saying that. It seems more like a harmonic resonance issue to me.

Re:Correct me if I'm wrong, but... (1)

W2k (540424) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465939)

Wouldn't it be a lot easier just to halt the global climate change that's causing catastrophic seaward events like these?

First line of the comment I replied to, emphasis mine. You were saying?

Re:Correct me if I'm wrong, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21466015)

> Who was saying it was climate change? I didn't see anyone saying that. It seems more like a harmonic resonance issue to me

The toplevel AC:

"Wouldn't it be a lot easier just to halt the global climate change that's causing catastrophic seaward events like these?"

Re:Correct me if I'm wrong, but... (4, Insightful)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465965)

Wouldn't it be a lot easier just to halt the global climate change that's causing catastrophic seaward events like these?
I realize you are trolling, but to answer your question: No. It is a lot easier to write software to detect rogue waves than it is to halt global climate change.

Re:Correct me if I'm wrong, but... (3, Insightful)

harves (122617) | more than 6 years ago | (#21466255)

Wouldn't it be a lot easier just to halt the global climate change ... ?
Whoa, slow down AC. Large waves like this have nothing to do with global climate change. As the summary says, random reports of these waves have been trickling in for centuries. Noone is suggesting (yet) that these waves have become more severe or more common in recent years - just that the scientific community finally took the reports seriously and did some analysis.

In Soviet Russia... (-1, Offtopic)

Vthornheart (745224) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465707)

waves hit YOU.

?

Re:In Soviet Russia... (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465799)

In Soviet Russia... waves hit YOU.

In Soviet Russia, jokes make you sensible.

Re:In Soviet Russia... (0)

Vthornheart (745224) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465837)

In Soviet Russia, intentionally non-humorous statements are considered their own brand of humor. ;)

Re:In Soviet Russia... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21466033)

no! nO! NO!

In Soylent Russia, sensible makes YOU joke!

But can it Warn Sailors of icebergs? (-1, Offtopic)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465719)

But can it Warn Sailors of icebergs?

Re:But can it Warn Sailors of icebergs? (3, Funny)

FireNWater (1182607) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465729)

Only rogue icebergs. . .

wrinkle penis (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21465727)

OK?

i poo my pants 4 u baby..

eat the poopie pie

Yes, its called.. (2, Funny)

eniac42 (1144799) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465733)

Avasta, SP1, me mateys! Shiver me timbers, look at that wave! Arrrrr!

Eddie would go (1)

weighn (578357) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465757)

Eddie Aikau [wikipedia.org] - he's still out there you know. Riding those mutthas.

Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (5, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465801)

The subtext of this article is amazing. Basically, sailors have been out there getting killed by giant waves for decades, but a bunch of scientists decreed that such waves could not exist, and therefor, everything from safety standards, to engineering, to the ships themselves, were all designed in line with what was predicted, but not what was observed. During this entire time, numerous eye witness reports were ignored, and even the odd photograph was dismissed as a fluke.

I find it amazing that anyone would blindly trust an academic institution with any matter of policy, regarding climate, when, 2 ships a week have been sinking now for decades (on average), that, there's eyewitnesses that have said what caused these sinkings, and instead, ignored them. If there's a smoking gun that says that scientists find what they want to find, and its not necessarily the truth, then this is it, and the only way to save science is to demand that science must act scientific.

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (5, Interesting)

theNote (319197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465865)

Obligatory rogue wave video from Deadliest Catch on Discovery channel:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=l_8hOai9hGQ [youtube.com]

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (2, Funny)

jcr (53032) | more than 6 years ago | (#21466513)

Oh, my god. If I ever saw something like that at sea, I'd have a hard time facing a swimming pool after that.

-jcr

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (4, Interesting)

thejuggler (610249) | more than 6 years ago | (#21468945)

I used to be in the US Navy. I did face a wave like that and bigger. We took a 70+ foot wave, bow first thankfully, while riding the front of a massive January storm somewhere off the coast of Oregon. I was on an FFG which can handle a wave that size much better than a fishing boat, but it was still one heck of a ride.

A few years back I was watching an episode on one of the Discovery network channels about some oceanic researches. Their research ship was hit by a rouge wave. It was then when scientists actually got hit by one that they started thinking of sailors accounts of rouge waves as credible. Damn pointed head morons. It took slapping them in the face with a giant wave for them to believe they existed.

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465899)

But isn't that exactly what happens everytime you complain about a problem to a doctor? "Nope, not possible, just diet and exercise."

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (2, Insightful)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465909)

The scientists made their decisions on objective data but weren't convinced by anecdotal evidence. In other words science worked just as it's supposed to work.

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (2, Insightful)

Jarjarthejedi (996957) | more than 6 years ago | (#21466019)

And yet at the same time science is supposed to investigate anecdotal matters, or at least that's where most of our scientific understanding has come from. Most leaps forward are not preceded by large quantities of statistical evidence, but rather one or two anecdotal happenings that someone gets curious about and decides to investigate. Sure, the scientists did all that was expected of them, they examined their evidence and found that these waves were impossible according to what they'd observed. However from what I've seen and heard this was treated as another case of one group of scientists saying something's impossible and other groups simply accepting their findings as fact without examining them or gathering their own data. As they say, hindsight is 20/20, but that doesn't mean the scientists shouldn't have studied the subject a little more before making their statements.

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (5, Interesting)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 6 years ago | (#21466143)

My recollection may be poor, but I don't remember scientists actually saying rogue waves can't exist. I do remember they said they couldn't model them using the linearized CFD simulations that had become popular, and when processing power finally grew to the point where they could cross fewer terms off of the ol' Navier-Stokes equations, they found something that resembled rogue waves in the results.

I suspect this is a case where one group of scientists or engineers misinterpreted or exaggerated the results of another group of scientists and engineers.

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (4, Insightful)

Splab (574204) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465933)

What about numerous UFO observations, Loch Ness etc? are you suggestion those should be regarded as proof of existence since there have been numerous observations and murky photographs? Science works by being skeptical, yes it can take decades for something to be acknowledged and that might be bad but taking every observation as proof would be worse.

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (2, Insightful)

Jarjarthejedi (996957) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465993)

Last time I checked there aren't 2 deaths a year from UFOs, or reportedly from UFOs. Sure there's somewhat of a correlation, but when people are dying semi-commonly (I figure 2 deaths a year means 1 ship sunk every 5 years or so) that's when you should be looking into the subject, not simply ignoring it and saying it's not possible and that the photos are proof of nothing.

The scientists aren't fully to blame for the fact that these waves were so long thought impossible, but neither are they completely blameless, they were so set in their ways that they couldn't see any way such a wave could exist, and that's a problem. In other words it's not bad to say that these waves, or UFOs, probably don't exist, but it is a problem to say that there's no possible way such a phenomenon could happen. As Douglas Adams once postulated (paraphrasing a good amount) 'the difference between something that's unlikely and something that's impossible is that, when you find out the impossible thing can actually happen you look a lot worse than the statistically unlikely thing'

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (3, Interesting)

ricree (969643) | more than 6 years ago | (#21466299)

they were so set in their ways that they couldn't see any way such a wave could exit
Except that scientists actually looked at the evidence and eventually found that they did exist. So how exactly were they "set in their waves". They did what they were supposed to do. They looked at a reported phenomenon and skeptically investigated it until they were able to determine one way or another whether it actually existed. Then once there was actually something to study, they set out to understanding what was actually going on. Please tell me what exactly they should have done differently here.

Would saying "ok, I believe you" without any evidence or understanding actually have saved any of the lives lost?

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (1)

mazarin5 (309432) | more than 6 years ago | (#21466751)

Listen here, Mister Smarty-Man...

Quick! Look behind you!

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21468201)

Would saying "ok, I believe you" without any evidence or understanding actually have saved any of the lives lost?

Why do you need a scientist to prove something exists? Really, I would the burden on science would be to prove that it doesn't exist. That's one thing that's lost in this process. A scientist tells me that I didn't see a rogue wave, when I saw it, then, he needs to prove that it doesn't exist. Really, its the same sort of thinking over and over again... there's a theory, says something couldn't happen, and woops suddenly we find out that all of these people that were discredited were actually right.

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (1)

yndrd1984 (730475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21468993)

You do realize that eyewitness accounts are among the least reliable types of evidence, right? And sometimes it takes a long time to do things the right way (with solid proof) as opposed to the easy way (believing what others tell you), especially when the evidence is so sparse.

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21469521)

You do realize that eyewitness accounts are among the least reliable types of evidence, right?

Science is nothing more than eyewitness accounts. You claim to witness something, then, I can witness it too. In the best and strongest case, you create a model that will allow others to predict what they will witness, then, below that, you can just give a set of procedures to witness something, and finally, you can say that you witnessed something and then make up a story about it.

Ultimately, the whole academic process exists to create a set of witnesses that are ethical, reliable, and knowledgable enough to describe what they have witnessed, and hopefully, insightful enough to do understand what others have witnessed. So, my criticism isn't to say that we should go back to (insert favorite holy book). It is to say that we need to monitor how good our science actually is, not by deluding ourselves into thinking that technological progress is the exclusive benchmark, but, as a function of, how much do we trust these people to be supreme witnesses. Right now, from the public perspective, its not as much as one might think, and that's really why superstition is making a comeback.

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (1)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470069)

I would be very weary of any scientist that says "That's Impossible!" when referring to a system as large, complicated, and chaotic as the ocean.

Simply put, although I'd peg rogue waves as being extremely improbable, I could easily see how all of the factors could hypothetically lead to several waves constructively interfering to create a single massive wave. I *am* surprised, however, to see that these rogue waves are observed as frequently as they are, however.

To be fair, scientists have also admitted that turbulence is a massive grey area in our current understanding of classical dynamics.

'UFOs' I'd imagine are the result of either hoaxes, or some atmospheric phenomena that doesn't occur frequently enough, or stick around long enough to be studied properly. If you described the Aurora to a scientist who had never seen or heard of it, he'd probably ask you to have your head examined.

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21470449)

HARD EVIDENCE ... 3 Top UFO Documentaries 31 Dec 2006

http://video.google.nl/videoplay?docid=8285709939745631584 [google.nl]

  ^-- As a skeptic as myself, I've got to say that his is *good* stuf --^

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (3, Informative)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#21466097)

What about numerous UFO observations, Loch Ness etc? are you suggestion those should be regarded as proof of existence since there have been numerous observations and murky photographs? Science works by being skeptical, yes it can take decades for something to be acknowledged and that might be bad but taking every observation as proof would be worse.

      Especially since the original perpetrator of the "Loch Ness Monster" hoax publicly admitted to it about 20 years ago in the UK, just before dying. Along with his admission was an apology, and what made him cough up the truth was seeing all the boats gathered with sonar equipment to finally, once and for all, put this myth to rest. He said he was ashamed that so many people had invested so much money for this.

      But people love to believe bullshit, and even though this made the news in the UK at the time (I watched it), people still perpetrate the "Loch Ness Monster" BS. Don't even get me started on UFOs.

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 6 years ago | (#21468745)

the original perpetrator of the "Loch Ness Monster" hoax publicly admitted to it about 20 years ago in the UK, just before dying...
The story of Nessie goes back hundreds of years. Even the researchers who proved that the photo you are referring to was a fake (one year before the admission) believe the monster to be real. More info here. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21466141)

What about numerous UFO observations, Loch Ness etc? are you suggestion those should be regarded as proof of existence since there have been numerous observations and murky photographs?

Yes, I do believe that both unidentified flying objects and Loch Ness both exist. I think the scientific community is in agreement with me on this one.

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (2, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465967)

I find it amazing that anyone would blindly trust an academic institution
Don't tell me. You're still younger than 25 years old.

 

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (4, Insightful)

eebra82 (907996) | more than 6 years ago | (#21466043)

[..] therefor, everything from safety standards, to engineering, to the ships themselves, were all designed in line with what was predicted, but not what was observed.
I think you're missing the point. It's not about altering ships to handle huge waves, but instead to warn them in advance. For instance, crew could get off the deck in time and the captain would have time to change its direction to match that of the wave.

I find it amazing that anyone would blindly trust an academic institution with any matter of policy, regarding climate, when, 2 ships a week have been sinking now for decades (on average), that, there's eyewitnesses that have said what caused these sinkings, and instead, ignored them.
Ignored what exactly? The article states that "severe weather has sunk more than 200 supertankers and container ships exceeding 200 metres in length during the last two decades. There's no data on how many of these ships actually sunk from a super wave. In fact, the number could be so small that it's not even worth our time. More importantly, most of these accidents happen to really old boats.

Last but not least, there are many eyewitnesses who claim to have spotted UFOs, been exposed to abductions, seen the Loch Ness monster and whatnot. You need credible evidence before you start spending billions of dollars on altering ship designs.

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21466771)

There was evidence though, it's just that no instrumentation had directly detected the waves until recently. There was a Discovery channel show "Killer Waves" or the like that showed pictures of massive damage to several huge ships but the sailor testimonies were ignored despite the type and scope of damage to the ship.

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21468173)

There's no data on how many of these ships actually sunk from a super wave. In fact, the number could be so small that it's not even worth our time. More importantly, most of these accidents happen to really old boats.

Last but not least, there are many eyewitnesses who claim to have spotted UFOs, been exposed to abductions, seen the Loch Ness monster and whatnot. You need credible evidence before you start spending billions of dollars on altering ship designs..


I would think sailors would be credible. That's the thing. You put sailors into same camp as UFO believers, but really, they are subject matter experts when it comes to the water. Really, that someone never went and bothered to really check the sailor's claims of giant waves for decades just tells me that "credible evidence" as you call it is just an excuse for laziness in the discipline.

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (2, Insightful)

eebra82 (907996) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470517)

I would think sailors would be credible. That's the thing. You put sailors into same camp as UFO believers, but really, they are subject matter experts when it comes to the water. Really, that someone never went and bothered to really check the sailor's claims of giant waves for decades just tells me that "credible evidence" as you call it is just an excuse for laziness in the discipline.
You don't have to be an expert to know that you're being probed anally by an alien. Same goes for enormous waves - you'd have to be pretty stupid not to recognize that a 100 foot wave is something out of the ordinary. My point is, sailors should be trusted as much as UFO believers until there is credible evidence. And by credible evidence, I am not saying eyewitnesses, but documented facts and material to analyze. For example, we must know how often they occur, where they occur, how fast they travel, how far, how wide they can get, etcetera. Without this knowledge, it's basically idiotic to alter any ship design, because for all we know, it could be like making all clothes in Italy volcano proof; an eruption happens every now and then, but it's so rare that it's silly to think you need to protect yourself from it.

Last but not least, I assure you that out of the millions of sailors out there, some of them are morons, compulsive liars and mentally insane. Of course, that statement goes for everyone else too. Point is, how can you as a scientist tell who's who? Therefore, eyewitnesses aren't very credible. Oh, and I'm definitely not saying that I doubt the existence of such waves. I just think that the post that I made my first reply to wasn't very insightful.

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 6 years ago | (#21468413)

Speaking of those design changes, I've got to wonder exactly what changes you could make to make a 100 foot high wave survivable.

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (2, Insightful)

m2943 (1140797) | more than 6 years ago | (#21466049)

Basically, sailors have been out there getting killed by giant waves for decades, but a bunch of scientists decreed that such waves could not exist, and therefor, everything from safety standards, to engineering, to the ships themselves, were all designed in line with what was predicted, but not what was observed

Yes, engineering and safety standards are based on objective evidence, not anecdotal reports. That is the way it should be. Sometimes people's hunches and anecdotes are proven right in retrospect, often, they are proven wrong.

I find it amazing that anyone would blindly trust an academic institution with any matter of policy, regarding climate

I'm sorry you don't understand the purpose of academic or scientific institutions; you are not supposed to "trust" them, you are supposed to look at their evidence and conclusions and then rationally formulate a policy based on it.

If there's a smoking gun that says that scientists find what they want to find, and its not necessarily the truth

Of course, it's "not necessarily the truth". Scientists make hypotheses and inferences based on data, and those are always subject to change.

The best scientific evidence right now says that anthropogenic climate change is happening. That scientific hypothesis may turn out to be wrong, but no alternative hypothesis is even remotely as plausible.

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (2, Insightful)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#21466079)

I'm sorry you don't understand the purpose of academic or scientific institutions; you are not supposed to "trust" them, you are supposed to look at their evidence and conclusions and then rationally formulate a policy based on it.

Yes, that's how it's supposed to work, but the GP is right that in practice, we are asked to base policies on our trust of them. Remember, people like Al Gore say, "Do this policy, because the scientific consensus in this area." He does not say,

"Do this policy, because this group of scientists has consistently been able to formulate correct, falsfiable, non-trivial, useful predictions, using a model that you can download at this website, and for which you can easily trace every assumption going into it, to its original scientific basis." (or any shorter version of that)

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 6 years ago | (#21466467)

Yes, that's how it's supposed to work, but the GP is right that in practice, we are asked to base policies on our trust of them.
Which is irrelevant, you fly on planes that you rarely understand the basic principles of much less the engineering. You drive on cars whose inner working are sometimes trade secrets. You eat food whose origin is a mystery in most cases and whose composition you never even try to check.

We trust a lot of things which means very little. Nothing is perfect and often there is a bloody good reason for that. Claiming something will make it better is usually how you make things much much worse.

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#21467581)

Which is irrelevant, you fly on planes that you rarely understand the basic principles of much less the engineering

It's certainly relevant to the point I was making. The antecedent of "them" in "our trust of them" was "the scientists proposing the theories." Airlines and cars are not built based on trust of scientists proposing these theories, but on rigorous real-world testing that confirms they hold true, and on insurers who put their own money on the line based on their estimates of the probabilistic safety of these science-driven devices.

These safeguards do not necessarily exist for the policies scientists advocate, however.

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (1)

Watson Ladd (955755) | more than 6 years ago | (#21467859)

So do you have another Earth we can use as a control?

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (1)

m2943 (1140797) | more than 6 years ago | (#21467331)

Remember, people like Al Gore say, "Do this policy, because the scientific consensus in this area."

Yes, and Al Gore is correct. Saying "there is scientific consensus" doesn't mean "trust these people blindly", it means "you can check the results if you want to".

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#21467513)

Except you can't, because the alternate statement isn't true. There is no such website; there is no such documented prediction trial of global climate metrics.

Oh, you can certainly look up the journal articles, which discuss how nasty the computer models say it will be ... but that's not the same thing.

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (1)

m2943 (1140797) | more than 6 years ago | (#21468685)

Except you can't, because the alternate statement isn't true. There is no such website; there is no such documented prediction trial of global climate metrics.

You make no sense; all data and models have been published and discussed at length. If you disagree with any of them, publish a paper.

You also seem to be starting from the wrong assumption that the burden of proof is on people claiming that global warming is happening and carbon emissions are dangerous. Quite to the contrary: given the potential risks, the burden of proof is on people arguing that continued massive carbon emissions are safe.

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (1)

yndrd1984 (730475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21469073)

I agree with most of what you say, but:

You also seem to be starting from the wrong assumption that the burden of proof is on people claiming that global warming is happening and carbon emissions are dangerous. Quite to the contrary: given the potential risks, the burden of proof is on people arguing that continued massive carbon emissions are safe.

In science, the burden of proof always lies with the person making the claim. When global warming was just a new hypothesis, the burden of proof was on those saying it was a real phenomenon. Now that they have solid evidence for their claim the burden has shifted, but as long as we're talking only about science, where the biggest risk is isn't relevant.

Now, if we're talking about policy, we have to both weigh the risks as well as consequences. But, as far as I know, the phrase "burden of proof" only deals with probabilities and evidence, not how grave the consequences could be.

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (1)

m2943 (1140797) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470243)

In science, the burden of proof always lies with the person making the claim

Sure. And it's fine to say that you'd like more proof for the claim "Anthropogenic global warming is occurring." But that claim isn't relevant for policy decisions about carbon emissions. At best, it's relevant for identifying nations responsible for the consequences of global warming.

The claim that's relevant about carbon emissions is "Massive carbon emissions are safe for the environment and climate.", and that claim is largely unsupported (and, in fact, there's evidence against it).

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21466101)

who the hell modded him up? ships were not built to withstand giant waves because scientists said so? what, seriously? the global scientific conspiracy to appease poseidon? surely, there must have been at least one company that built those tank ships if the existence of these waves was as obvious to everyone as to you. did it ever occur to you that you don't build ships like tanks unless there's either an obvious need for it or you're rolling in money and severely lack imagination?* and how the fuck did you tie all this in with global warming? idiots jumping on science, whilst trolling on a huge worldwide network made only thanks to years of hard work of scientists, just make my day. *that's a rhetorical question, that you've already answered, btw.

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (1)

Swampash (1131503) | more than 6 years ago | (#21466235)

Yeah, I can see the conversation.

Engineers: "The peak wave height ever recorded in the area is 15 metres, so we're going to design and build the platform to withstand 30-metre waves."

Beancounters: "Do you have any scientific basis for that recommendation?"

Engineers: "Well, no, but we heard this old sailor telling stories one day..."

Beancounters: "YOU'RE FIRED".

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21468229)

Beancounters: "Do you have any scientific basis for that recommendation?"

Engineers: "Well, no, but we heard this old sailor telling stories one day..."


Realistically, its more like this:

Sailor: "A giant wave knocked off the bow of my ship."
Engineer: "Sorry, but that wave couldn't have existed, because my computer model didn't predict it.

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (2, Funny)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 6 years ago | (#21466279)

I find it amazing that anyone would blindly trust an academic institution with any matter of policy, regarding climate,

And don't forget evolution! Those scientists, with all their theories, undermining honest God-fearing values! Have they ever seen anything evolve? No!

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21468625)

And don't forget evolution! Those scientists, with all their theories, undermining honest God-fearing values! Have they ever seen anything evolve? No!

This isn't about saying that science should be replaced by religion. It is about saying that science should not become a religion, and, in this case, it was a religion about wave theory that hindered science. Had someone gotten off their ass, gotten onto a boat, and looked for some of these rogue waves, instead of just saying that it was impossible, then, we might have had something. The failure here is the same failure that science accusses religion of. You have a prescribed belief that is so overwhelming that no one even bothered to investigate a possible contradiction, dismissing it as so much sailor stories.

Ironically, it was those sailor's stories that described things disappearing over the horizon, that lent weight towards the idea of the earth being round, instead of flat.

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (2, Interesting)

ozbird (127571) | more than 6 years ago | (#21466729)

When you look at some of the flag-on-convenience rust buckets plying the oceans, the fact that some never make it isn't too hard to believe without invoking rogue waves, kraken etc. - Occam's razor.

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (1)

I'll Provide The War (1045190) | more than 6 years ago | (#21466731)

"During this entire time, numerous eye witness reports were ignored, and even the odd photograph was dismissed as a fluke."

I guarantee there are more eyewitness reports and photographs of alien abductions and lake monsters than rogue waves.

How can elitist scientists ignore this mountain of evidence at our peril? //sarcasm

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21466915)

I hope those who are equating UFOs and the Loch Ness Monster with real ships that really sank because of real waves are not real scientists. Or, we're all screwed!

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21468593)

What a poorly informed post. First, you mean millennia, not decades, and I'm completely at a loss as to why this didn't occur to you. Second, you try to frame this as experiment vs. theory and real world vs. academic when the majority of arguments against the existence of these waves were generated by sailors hundreds of years ago as naval dogma. Most sailors never saw such a wave, and because they were reluctant to believe in anything they hadn't seen, they insisted that giant waves must be exaggerations. Finally, "this proves that scientists are bad" is an outrageous fallacy which you haven't even attempted to prove in your post. One must wonder about the intelligence of those who modded this post "insightful."

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 6 years ago | (#21468767)

The subtext of this article is amazing. Basically, sailors have been out there getting killed by giant waves for decades, but a bunch of scientists decreed that such waves could not exist, and therefor, everything from safety standards, to engineering, to the ships themselves, were all designed in line with what was predicted, but not what was observed. During this entire time, numerous eye witness reports were ignored, and even the odd photograph was dismissed as a fluke.

Note that once all you have to rely on is anecdotal evidence, it's very difficult to get specs to engineer to. These rogue waves haven't been killing people for "decades". More like since people took to the seas. Skepticism is a perfectly acceptable part of the scientific process. As more evidence build and cases are documented and recorded you start to take stories more seriously. It's a triumph for the sophistication and technology that we have that these events have now been recorded and there is no longer any doubt. Now as ocean going vessels have survived some of these monsters we've got more and more reliable data and can do something about it. More ships are surviving so obviously we've been very lucky OR the boats are getting better too.

Also you can't engineer for every possible situation. We know giant squids exists for instance but we don't go around squid monster proofing even small ocean going ships. Whales are seen every day but we don't whale proof our boats nearly enough. Why? The cost are prohibitive and the scenarios where engineering would make a difference are rare. At some point the risks have to be considered acceptable. Increasingly society is losing sight of that.

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (3, Informative)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 6 years ago | (#21469621)

Speaking as a scientist, and as a sailor with a couple decades worth of experience on the North Pacific, go to hell.

Yeah, science is pretty far from perfect. We scientists can be arrogant, quick to trust our theories and to disregard experience, and we make mistakes. We are, in other words, human. But scientists have also given us vastly improved navigational technology. Radar lets you see where the land is, through darkness, rain, and fog, to avoid hitting coasts and other ships. Loran, and now GPS, gave ships the ability to see precisely where they are. Ship-to-ship radio communication made it possible for ships to radio for help when they were in distress. EPIRBs (emergency position indicating radio beacon) allow ships to send distress calls over a satellite network to the Coast Guard and send precise information on their location.

The end result? Being on the water isn't safe, it never has been, and it never will be. The ocean is an unpredictable and dangerous thing. But thanks to these scientific advances, it's much, much safer today than it was just twenty or thirty years ago.

Re:Stoopid scientists get sailors killed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21470221)

Learn, to, English, please.

But there's a couple basic gotchas (1)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465819)

But there's a couple basic gotchas with any scheme to detect rare phenoms:
  • Even a small ( 1% ) false positive rate is waaay too large, it swamps the real ones.
  • It's really boring to debug software when the relevant data only comes in every once in a long while.

Re:But there's a couple basic gotchas (1)

Ignis Flatus (689403) | more than 6 years ago | (#21466237)

Even a small ( 1% ) false positive rate is waaay too large, it swamps the real ones.

i'll take those odds. the thing about a rouge wave detector is that if it works, and you avoid the wave, you may never see it. you don't really know what the false-positive rate is. but if only 1% of your avoidance maneuvers (for a rare event) are for naught, there's not much time or fuel being wasted. the way you can determine if it works or not is if the number of lost ships decreases, or eyewitness accounts start matching the predictions of your system.

Re:But there's a couple basic gotchas (1)

atomico (162710) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470163)

That "1% false positive rate" is a not too well defined figure. 1% of what? Of "potential rogue waves, as detected by the radar algorithms"? Anyway, false positives can destroy confidence in the system: imagine you are commanding a huge supertanker where each maneuver costs big $$$ in fuel and time. Each two days, a warning comes telling you to change course because a rogue wave might be coming. I bet you would be disabling the 'rogue wave warning appliance' in a few weeks.
Another problem is that you cannot guess, by looking at current weather conditions, whether a rogue wave warning might be a false positive or not, rogue waves being so unpredictable.

so basically (1)

screamphilling (1173499) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465821)

"attention cargo ship... an incoming rogue wave is fast approaching. we just thought we'd warn you of impending doom, rather than have it sudden."

Not really, ships have survived them (4, Informative)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465877)

The entire trick to surviving these waves seems to be not catch them from the side. If this warning comes in enough time to turn the ship to face the wave at the safest angle then the ship stands a better chance.

Even if the ship is destined to sink, this might give the crew more time to get to the liveboats, some modern ones are almost like subs so that no matter the wave, they can survive because they always right themselves and are closed so they can't fill with water and are to small to be broken up.

I have no idea exactly how much warning a ship can get with this, but as you can see from the pictures supplied and the stories in the article these waves can be survived. Perhaps a person with some experience can tell if the sudden sinkings could be down to the ship catching the wave at the wrong angle.

Re:Not really, ships have survived them (2, Insightful)

Sanat (702) | more than 6 years ago | (#21466203)

When I lived in Sydney, Australia area, i visited a friend in Lower Templestow near Melbourne and she and i and about five or six others went with a friend in a large cabin cruiser out past the breakwall at Portsea into the near ocean area and we were laughing, drinking and doing some fishing and all of a sudden a wall of high water was coming at us. Fortunately the engines were on and the captain immediately turned into the wave as well as he could do in the few seconds we had.

We were picked up and tossed about and then dropped into a hole of air at least several feet in depth. Fortunately no one was thrown overboard but we were all pretty shook up and the party seemed to end about then.

The captain put it to vote on whether to stay out or go back to port. Most chose to go back and the Captain wanted to verify that no damage had weakened the structure so he was obviously pleased with this choice.

And this is my small happening with a rogue wave.

My father can...Thought I would share this story (2, Interesting)

mindaktiviti (630001) | more than 6 years ago | (#21468355)

"Tsunami in the middle of the pacific"...this is THE story my dad has. Every dad has one, the one story he'll tell his kids and grandkids...and this one is his.

Fresh out of Politechnika Gdaska (Gdansk University of Technology) my dad took a job as a communication's officer on a fishing boat that did fishing in the pacific, and they were away for 18 months.

In 1978 between November 10th & 17th, about 60 miles west of Vancouver island, a rogue wave hit my dad's 150m(524') fishing ship. The wave came from the north (the direction they were facing) and it was about 60m (200') big. They were in a bad storm for about a week and on the last night of the storm the wave hit them. Luckily they were facing it and it wasn't one that was rolling over itself (don't know the correct terminology), but it was just this huge mass of water rolling towards them.

It was the ship captain, the first officer, ship's engineer, and himself - ship's communication officer that were inside the top part where you steer the boat (once again, not sure of proper terminology). They weren't expecting it but essentially what happened was their ship was going sort of up and down with the regular waves, but with this one it just went up...and up...and up...and the engine started sputtering very loudly, almost choking, and the entire ship was just on this impossible angle for an impossible amount of time. And then the wave passed and the ship went back down. What they saw was essentially a wall of water rolling towards them that was about the size of an apartment building.

When this happened several crew members went above and they were just white like ghosts because the sensations they felt were so unnatural. The ship's engineer who had over 30 years of sea experience said that never in his life has he ever gone through anything like that. And yes...if they were facing sideways when they met the wave, I wouldn't be here because my father would have perished. No one believed what they said, including a lot of the crew on the actual ship! It was just something that wasn't possible for them.

I highly doubt that what he told me was bullshit because of the amount of detail he used and also the fact that he didn't even know what they were (i.e. the name "Rogue Wave"), and also because he told me this story many years ago.

Wahh! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21465859)

Rogue waves don't exist! They don't, they don't, they don't!!

Surfing (1)

jnguy (683993) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465961)

Yay for better surf forecast!

I survived one that hit shore. (4, Interesting)

JimMarch(equalccw) (710249) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465977)

More people get killed along the Pacific NorthWest coast by rogue waves than by sharks.

I was 12, picking mussels along the coast about 20 miles south of San Francisco - "Sail Rock" just south of San Francisco. It was a very low tide and a smaller rock just off the main one was accessible when the water flowed out between major waves. This smaller rock was about 2ft wide, 10ft long and about 10ft high, and the top 4ft was bone dry, higher than even the spray patterns let alone wave action.

My dad and kid brother (age 8) were on the main rock. I had made it out to the smaller rock and was filling a bucket with the biggest mussels I'd ever handled. I had my bucket mostly full when I glanced up.

I'd been warned about these things and I knew the 20-ft tall wall of water coming at me was a killer. They pick people up, smash 'em on the rocks behind them then drag them out to sea unconscious...or sometimes grab people right off sandy beaches.

My dad spotted it around the same time and pulled my kid brother further up the main rock (about 70ft tall). I don't know how far up they made it - my dad got seriously wet and had to cling to my brother while assuming I was toast.

My only chance was to straddle the smaller rock like a jockey on a horse and hand on. I remember thinking about options while the whole world slowed down, and then doing the straddle and grab number. When the wave hit it was like being flushed down a giant toilet. The water peaked out around 4ft over my head. As it washed out, my dad said the sight of me doing my best imitation of a big funny-lookin' barnacle was the best sight he'd ever seen.

It dragged the glasses off my face, never saw that bucket or hammer again, hands were cut up but I made it.

That thing was well over 10x the size of the normal waves coming in.

My dad wasn't upset with me. He knew I'd thought I was going to die and knew I'd always, always keep an eyeball on that ocean when near it.

Heh. It was my mom that freaked out worse when we got home but she too understood I'd had enough problems.

Re:I survived one that hit shore. (1)

MtViewGuy (197597) | more than 6 years ago | (#21466641)

If I remember correctly, rogue waves often happen when there is really bad weather in the ocean or when you have a really strong current near the shoreline. Given that the North American west coast is on the east end of the North Pacific Drift current splitting to the Alaska Current and California Current, that's why there are many reports of rogue waves up and down this coast from Mexico all the way up to the Aleutian Islands.

A particularly bad place for rogue waves is the so-called Bermuda Triangle, where the Antilles Current curves sharply into the start of the Gulf Stream current. Because of that, the weather inside the "Triangle" can suddenly become very bad quickly, and as a result you see a lot of airplanes and boats just "vanish" because of the sudden change in weather. This bad weather can often generate a lot of rogue waves, which may explain a number of lost ships in this area.

Re:I survived one that hit shore. (1)

CodyRazor (1108681) | more than 6 years ago | (#21466793)

Not to downplay rogue waves at all, but arent shark fatalities exceedingly rare anyway? Isnt it kind of like the "more bacteria than a toilet seat" thing?

Re:I survived one that hit shore. (1)

JimMarch(equalccw) (710249) | more than 6 years ago | (#21467293)

That's pretty much true - but it still underscores the idea that these turkeys aren't just being seen way out at sea, they're hitting shore often enough to around half a dozen people a year. Not that many, granted, but it's enough to bring 'em out of the "fable" category. As an aside: I meant to say that Sail Rock is just south of Pacifica, at the north end of the section of Highway One known as "Devil's Slide". Jim

Re:I survived one that hit shore. (1)

gujo-odori (473191) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470147)

I live in San Bruno, we were just down past there today. Beautiful drive. I'll make sure to stay off the rocks.

Re:I survived one that hit shore. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21469721)

Not to ruin a good story, but TFA mentions 'rogue waves' are the ones that exceed the 15 meters ships are built to withstand. A 20' wave is less than half the size of other non-rogue waves.

Overlords (1)

CriminalNerd (882826) | more than 6 years ago | (#21466003)

I for one, welcome our new rogue tsunami overlords. May they forever bless us with their water.

I've heard that... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21466159)

rogue waves do it from behind.

My experience with a rouge wave (4, Interesting)

lancejjj (924211) | more than 6 years ago | (#21466261)

I was about 18 years old when I was putt-putting around in a small 20-foot motor boat in Narragansett Bay of off Rhode Island with some friends.

We were fishing and otherwise having a good time, when I noticed a large wave coming towards us in otherwise calm waters. In panic, I quickly pointed it out my friend Bruce who was piloting the craft. "No problem", he said, who calmly started to turn the boat into the wave. I don't think he quite understood how huge the wave was - maybe he was thinking it was the wake from another boat.... clearly its size didn't register with him.

But I sure did recognize the size of this wave, and it was considerably higher than 10 feet. I ducked and covered and held on for dear life, but it was faster or closer than I thought.

Before I was ready for it, the wave threw up the boat and slammed it back down at an unnatural angle. We were all knocked around. I was thrown from the bow to the stern of the boat, getting my body knocked on the windshield, my friends, and the seats (in that order). Bruce landed in the water, and someone helped him back on board.

The boat was flooded, but no one was seriously hurt. We checked out our bloody scrapes, put equipment back in place, and mopped up all the water in the boat.

It was weird - just this one big wave in a calm bay on a calm summer morning.

Re:My experience with a rouge wave (1)

lancejjj (924211) | more than 6 years ago | (#21466293)

Oh, one more thing, before anyone replies. It wasn't actually rouge. It was pretty much the same color as any other part of the ocean.

Friggin' spell check doesn't check MY spelling, damn it.

Re:My experience with a rouge wave (3, Interesting)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 6 years ago | (#21466433)

This happens frequently in bays, since waves diffract around the capes and then you get constructive interference between the normal waves and the two diffractions, causing occasional waves 3 times taller than normal.

rogue (5, Funny)

odo graphic (1187229) | more than 6 years ago | (#21466275)

There are no rogue waves, only Chuck Norris swimming laps.

For those actually interested, (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21466291)

Wiki has a good article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rogue_wave_(oceanography) [wikipedia.org]

For the entirety of my career (33 years) scientists have accepted the existance of rogue waves. The problem is that there were few measurements. That is remarkable given the number of instruments we put into the water every year. As the Wiki article points out there are several competing theories of how the waves happen. It is possible that more than one of these theories is correct depending on local conditions. For instance, in the middle of the ocean, such waves might be caused when waves coming from several directions all achieve maximum amplitude at the same place and time. Nearer to shore, they may be caused by the shoreline focusing waves like a parabolic reflector.

I'm not a scientist but I have spent a lot of time working with them and I have never heard one deny the existance of rogue waves.

To whomever tagged this article "idontcare"... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21467043)

...I hope you drown.

How about the person that tagged it "apple"? (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 6 years ago | (#21470089)

Its clearly oranges.

oh come on (1)

barocco (1168573) | more than 6 years ago | (#21467993)

just use STL already!

Betrayed (1)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 6 years ago | (#21468163)

Certain oceans are a lot more prone to rogue waves than others. What bothers me is that the US Navy surely had a lot of information concerning
  rogue waves and that information was not shared with commercial shipping or with yachtsmen around the world. One rogue wave actually ripped the end of
  the flight deck off of an aircraft carrier and those decks are quite far above the waters surface.
          So just why was the world kept in the dark over these waves? Apparently a few of these things actually reach 150 feet in height.

Re: Betrayed - scientists ignored us too (1)

thejuggler (610249) | more than 6 years ago | (#21468989)

I was in the US Navy and did experience a rogue wave back when these things didn't exist according to scientists. Those pointed head morons didn't want to listen to us either.
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