### Freak Waves

Q: When does three plus three equal ten?

A: When waves meet up in experiments to simulate monstrous freak waves that snap ships in half or topple oil drilling rigs.

Freak waves are rare, but satellite images and sailors' reports of waves in the open ocean rising up to tower over the surrounding surf show that they can reach the height of a twelve story building. They've caused numerous shipping disasters over the centuries, even appearing in epics of ancient mariners.

Until recently freak waves have defied physicists in search of an explanation of how they form. A study by Miguel Onorato of the University of Torino in Italy suggests we are closing in on an answer. It turns out that waves don't always obey simple math. When two waves combine, their total height is usually just the sum of the individual wave heights. When they start to get large and approach each other at just the right angle, however, they add up to more than the sum of their parts. In physics jargon, they combine nonlinearly.

### How 4,000 Physicists Gave a Vegas Casino its Worst Week Ever

What happens when several thousand distinguished physicists, researchers, and students descend on the nation’s gambling capital for a conference? The answer is "a bad week for the casino"—but you'd never guess why.

### Ask a Physicist: Phone Flash Sharpie Shock!

Lexie and Xavier, from Orlando, FL want to know: "What's going on in this video ? Our science teacher claims that the pain comes from a small electrical shock, but we believe that this is due to the absorption of light. Please help us resolve this dispute!"

### The Science of Ice Cream: Part One

Even though it's been a warm couple of months already, it's officially summer. A delicious, science-filled way to beat the heat? Making homemade ice cream. (We've since updated this article to include the science behind vegan ice cream. To learn more about ice cream science, check out The Science of Ice Cream, Redux ) Image Credit: St0rmz via Flickr Over at Physics@Home there's an easy recipe for homemade ice cream. But what kind of milk should you use to make ice cream? And do you really need to chill the ice cream base before making it? Why do ice cream recipes always call for salt on ice?