Scientists studying the origins of the colossal "rogue waves" that sneak up on ships in seemingly calm seas have enlisted helpless Legos in their search for answers.

A research team at Australian National University have been conducting experiments in nonliniear dynamics in hopes that they'll be able to explain killer waves that have much higher amplitude than those around them. The mysterious, legendary waves have only recently been accepted as scientific fact, and thanks to the Lego experiments, scientists now know that they can be much much worse than originally thought.

Using a scientific fish tank, a wave generator and a Lego man on a ship floating on the water surface, the scientists were able to demonstrate that rogue waves much bigger than previously thought can occur. The team have labelled these ‘super rogue waves', as they can be up to five times bigger than the other waves around them.

SUPER ROGUE WAVE. The researchers don't specify the heights these freak waves can hit, but based on what's happening in miniature, it's safe to assume at least Perfect Storm-levels. Did you see the Lego man go down? Bummer for him. Another victim of scientific progress. [Australian National University via PhysOrg]