b"Engineer Innovation | Brownian motionBrownian Motion.The random musings of a Fluid DynamicistWhere's my ducky?In January 1992 a cargo ship heading from China to the US encountered a terrible ocean storm. As the wind and rain lashed the deck, and as the ship rocked back and forth on freakish waves, a cargo crate worked free of its tethers and, almost unnoticed, slid off the deck and into the Pacific Ocean.That crate contained no less than 29,000 plastic toys, a disparate collection of crabs, beavers, frogs and small yellow ducks. Originally destined to spend their lives in the warm and safe environment of an American bathtub, this bath toys, was instead destined to spend the next 27 years navigating the ocean currents, on an epic journey around the world. And what a journey. Being swept along at an average speed of almost 7 miles per day (twice as fast as the ocean current), some of the ducks have traveled over 50,000 nautical miles. Survivors of this avian flotilla were recovered in far-flung locations such as Australia, Japan, North America, South America and Europe. Almost three decades later, these battered bath toys are still washing up on beaches around the world: bleached by sun and seawater, the ducks and beavers had faded to white, but the turtles and frogs had kept their original colors. Some intrepid ducks have even visited the North Pole after becoming frozen in an Arctic ice-stream.Unsurprisingly, the plight of these ducks aroused much interest in the scientific and engineering community, who have tracked progress of their epic journey, in one of the worlds biggest validation exercises. It is well reported that the duck flotilla has greatly enhanced our understanding of ocean currents, as teams of dedicated oceanographers track the progress of the ducks and try to predict where they will end up next. What is much less well known, is that incident inspired a whole new engineering discipline of predictive-toy-duck-hydrodynamics, in which highly qualified engineers dedicated wasted a significant amount of effort and utilized abused computational fluid dynamics software to simulate how a duck would respond to extreme wave conditions in the ocean. Brownian Motion was definitely not one of them! nRoute taken by the Duck Flotilla initially lost in the Pacific Ocean in 1992. (NordNordWest via Wikimedia Commons)68"