John Scott Russell

Scott Russell was a civil engineer, shipbuilder and naval architect who, alongside Isambard Kingdom Brunel, built the Great Eastern. He made the discovery of the wave of translation that gave birth to the modern study of solitons and developed the wave-line system of ship construction. On seeing a boat being drawn along a narrow canal by a pair of horses he noticed that when it suddenly stopped, the bow wave continued forward at great velocity, rolling on for several miles at a speed of eight to nine miles per hour. He was convinced that this was an important phenomenon and began to experiment in his garden with a wave tank, studying what he described as the ‘Wave of Translation’. However, not until the 1960s when scientists began to use modern digital computers, that the significance of his discovery was fully appreciated. 


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