Waves are in your life everyday and every way. Microwaves are waves, laser beams are waves, music is sound waves, tsunamis are water waves and the entire universe is filled with electromagnetic waves emanating from the Big Bang. Waves are sometimes useful and sometimes destructive. Microwaves cook our food and enable cell phone communication. Recent worldwide disasters have shown the enormous and devastating power that naturally occurring waves can generate. The Indian Ocean Earthquake of 2004 generated a tsunami wave that traveled at hundreds of miles per hour around the world causing catastrophic damage to nearby continents. Lasers waves can generate enormous amounts of energy and power that behave in many ways similar to a tsunami. Fortunately, we know how to create and control them for the benefit of humankind. Come and learn about the similarities and difference in all of these wavy phenomena. We will have demonstrations and videos and audience participation. The world will never look the same to you again.

See this lecture on UCTV Video-on-Demand or refer to the complete UCTV Science on Saturday lecture series for more details.

Student Lecture Notes

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Waves in Nature: Lasers to Tsunamis and Beyond

Ed Moses
Project Manager and Principal Deputy Associate Director
National Ignition Facility (NIF)
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Richard Sawicki
Chief Engineer, National Ignition Facility Program
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Dan Burns
Physics Teacher
Los Gatos High School

Student Anticipation Guide and Worksheet

Wave phenomena are common in everyday life. Because of this, many people already know a lot about it. Test your knowledge by circling True or False next to each statement below. Revisit your answers at the end of the presentation to see how well you did.

T   F The amplitude of a sound wave is a measure of its pitch.
T   F Ocean waves bring water in to shore from further out from shore.
T   F Light waves can travel through a vacuum.
T   F Light waves can tell us about the makeup of the object that produced them.
T   F Tsunami waves are dozens of feet high out in the deep ocean.
T   F Sound can travel through string.
T   F The wavelength of a light wave is a measure of its color.

Listen carefully to the presentation to answer the questions during the talk. You will need these answers to get credit from your teacher.

1. What type of wave can heat popcorn?


2. What does the Governor do that is not safe?


3. Write the wave property that goes with each letter shown on the diagram below.

A _______________ B _______________


4. Sort this list of waves by whether it is transverse or longitudinal (compression): light, sound, water, microwave, earthquake P wave, earthquake S wave, slinky, "Human Wave".

Transverse            Longitudinal (Compression)



5. How can you tell you are at a node when the standing sound wave is generated?


6. Give 2 examples of wave resonance.


7. List all the waves that are used to make the National Ignition Facility (NIF) work. Dont forget the most important one, brain waves!


Speaker Bios

Dr.Edward Moses

Project Manager and Principal Deputy Associate Director
National Ignition Facility (NIF)

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Ed Moses grew up working for his dad in construction. He earned his B.S. from Cornell University in 1972 in electrical engineerings and his Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1977 in laser physics. He began his professional career at Hughes Aircraft Company where he was a scientist and program manager from 1977 to 1980 developing high average power visible light lasers. In 1980, he joined the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory working on new ways to use lasers to process materials. In 1987, he became the Program Manager for the Isotope Separation and Materials Processing Program while also serving as Deputy Associate Director for Lasers.

In 1990, Dr. Moses left the Laboratory, when he became the Executive Vice President of Advanced Technology Applications, but returned to the Laboratory in 1996 as Deputy Associate Director for Program Development in the Physics and Space Technology Directorate. There he became the Project Manager for PEREGRINE, a program that developed and licensed a new method to treat cancer using radiation therapy.

In 1998, Dr. Moses joined the National Ignition Facility (NIF) Project at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and became the Project Manager for NIF in 1999. The NIF is a $3.5B, project to build and commission the world's largest laser facility for the purpose of studying high energy density physics and attaining thermonuclear burn in the laboratory.

He is currently the Associate Director for the NIF Programs Directorate and the Director of the National Ignition Campaign and plays a key role in the development of the applications for the use of the NIF in pursuit of national strategic security, national energy security and basic science.

Ed holds patents in laser technology and computational physics.

He wants everyone to learn about this exciting and growing field.

Richard Sawicki

Chief Engineer, National Ignition Facility Program
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Richard Sawicki is the Chief Engineer for the National Ignition Facility Program at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Having worked on this program since 1993 he has contributed to many aspects of the NIF Project including assisting in establishing the technology development program in support of NIF, Associate Program Leader for NIF's special equipment during design and early construction activities, and Mechanical Engineering Division Leader for the Directorate. Richard started working at LLNL in 1980 in the Nuclear Explosive Engineering Division being responsible for conducting analyses of various nuclear and non-nuclear weapons systems. Following this assignment he took on different project management responsibilities in other programs at LLNL including the Atomic Vapor Laser Isotope Separation Program and Brilliant Pebbles. Prior to working at LLNL Richard worked at several aerospace facilities including Rockwell International, American Science and Engineering, Ford Aerospace and Hughes Aircraft, Electron Dynamics Division where he contributed as a design engineer and thermo/structural analyst.

Richard has several patents in the area of deformable mirror technologies. He received his BS degree from Dartmouth College in 1971 and his MS degree from UCLA in 1974. His hobbies include playing and building guitars, sound recording, editing and production, photography and art appreciation.

Dan Burns

Earth and Space Science and AP Physics Teacher
Los Gatos High School

Dan Burns has been teaching Earth and Space Science and AP Physics at Los Gatos High School since 1992. He is the LGHS science department chair and past president of the Northern California/Nevada American Association of Physics Teachers. He has worked on curriculum development and teacher workshops for the SETI Institute, the USGS, NASA, AAPT, and San Jose State University. He has a BS in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Illinois. Prior to becoming a teacher Dan was a senior research specialist for the Lockheed Missiles and Space Company. Dan is an avid amateur astronomer and astrophotographer and has had several pictures published in astronomy magazines.