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The preface presents readers with how scientists represent waves—primarily in water, but also in cosmology, biology, and social life—as processes that are simultaneously material and formal. It advances the frame of “wave clutter,” a maritime term for radar echoes from the surface of the sea that scatter steady images of waves, to theorize how waves, for the people who study them, are always a mix of the empirical and the conceptual, the real and the represented.

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