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A sailor's poetic primer on the science of tides

Before you listen to this talk by Jonathan White, you might want to be somewhere by the sea as the moon rises or sets. That would be ideal. If not that, be somewhere where you can search maps of all the far-flung places he’ll talk about. You’ll likely have that urge.

White is a lifelong sailor. A misadventure running aground in Alaska with his schooner “Crusader” triggered a desire to know more about tides.

He came to find out tides have confounded philosophers and scientists — from Plato and Aristotle to da Vinci, Newton, Descartes and Galileo – throughout history. And there is still much we don’t understand about them.

White’s research took ten years and involved travels around the world. The result is his book, “Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean.” His talk elucidates the mystery of tides with both scientific insight and poetic appreciation.

White spoke at the Elliott Bay Book Company on April 10. The event was co-presented by Northwest Science Writers. KUOW’s Sonya Harris recorded his talk.

White on what music can teach us about tides:

Listen to the full version of his talk below:

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