If you spend a lot of time in a boat you can’t help but notice how fascinating water can be whether it is in constant motion or utterly still and all but invisible. There are some things that water can do that you don’t often see. I recently came across a YouTube video about an unusual phenomenon: a spike wave. The description with the video notes: “Gav and Dan go to an ocean simulator to film a wave that does not occur anywhere in nature….” That may be true of the perfectly formed three-story-tall spike wave created by a sophisticated test tank at the FlowWave Ocean Energy Research Facility at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, but spike waves do exist. I’ve kayaked with them shooting up all around me.There is a smaller version of the spike wave that you’ll see every time it rains. A raindrop falling into a puddle will punch a depression into the surface of the puddle, and when the water rushes back to fill the void, a spout of water will rise briefly from the center. That little geyser is called a Worthington jet. It often happens so quickly that you don’t get a good look at it, but on occasion the size and speed of the raindrop will create a larger, more persistent jet.

I made a pinhole in a paper cup and let drops fall on a soup bowl full of water.

I made a pinhole in a paper cup and let drops fall into a soup bowl full of water.

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