Like the pursuit of nuclear-fusion technology or the Space Race between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R, developers are on the cusp of another technological breakthrough.

The Kelly Slater Wave Company, founded by the surfing legend, was the first to make figurative waves when news broke of his artificial-wave generating technology, triggering a contested race between other developers to create the perfect surfing wave.

“But as Slater grabbed headlines, something else was happening. Consortiums of engineers, scientists, and financiers were building other wave-generating technologies around the world,” reports The Atlantic. “Slater’s company wasn’t only generating fake waves; it was spreading an infectious enthusiasm for the very idea. And there was potential gold for whoever could do it best: In 2016, the International Olympic Committee voted to include surfing in the 2020 Japan Games. First to market in Japan meant an introduction to the world. A race was on.”

The Atlantic offers a deep-dive into the history of the wave-generating machine -- a technology landlocked surfers first experimented with in 1969 at the storied Big Surf Waterpark in Tempe, Ariz. -- and its complications. Reports of sanitation problems have stymied projects like this in the past.

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