The mystery of why there are "rogue waves" in the world's oceans may soon be solved, thanks to scientists who claim to be using mathematics to explain the phenomenon.
Until recently, rogue waves were regarded as fanciful sea tales where ships were engulfed by one-off waves with a massive wall of water. Recent studies from the European Union showed that they do exist.
Now, an international team, led by Prof Nail Akhmediev of Australian National University, has been using mathematical equations, used in the field of non-linear optic, to shed some light on rogue waves.
"Waves on the ocean and light beams may seem like totally different things, but the underlying mathematics is almost exactly the same.
"There's no reason why models based on mathematical concepts like the nonlinear Schrodinger equation can't work as well for water as they do for light and quantum wave functions," Prof Akhmediev said.