From the oceans’ depths to the insides of atoms, researchers of all stripes have found inspiration in the surf.

When environmental scientist Easkey Britton was growing up on Ireland’s northwestern coast, the sea crept into every corner of her life. To get to school every morning, she took a shortcut across a beach that could only be crossed at low tide, so she learned to read tide tables and the buoys’ bob and weave. She knew what weather was coming by the feel of the air that rolled off the Atlantic Ocean’s wild expanse.
And maybe most importantly, Britton surfed, which she says trained her to look for patterns in the natural world. “Part of becoming a surfer then was learning the weather systems and how they work, so from an early age I became a meteorologist,” she says. “I didn’t realize then that it was all training, in a way, to become a scientist.”
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