Properties of Waves

Edited by Jamie (ScienceAid Editor), Taylor (ScienceAid Editor)

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About Waves

labeled diagram of a wave

Above is a displacement / distance graph showing a wave. It is labeled with some key terms.

Parts of a Wave

  1. 1
    AMPLITUDE.
    The amplitude is the height of the wave from 0 displacement (normal) to the peak at its highest point.
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  2. 2
    WAVELENGTH.
    The Wavelength is the distance from the start to the second point the wave passes 0. i.e. a complete wave.
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  3. 3
    PERIOD.
    On a displacement/time graph, the period would be equivalent to the time of the wavelength. The frequency is 1 / period and measured in Hz (1Hz = 1wave per second).
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The Wave Equation

the wave equation

Have a look at the examples using this equation, below. A loudspeaker reproduces a note of frequency 320Hz. It travels through the air at the speed of 340ms-1.

A. What is the wavelength in air? l = v/f l = 340ms-1 / 320Hz l = 1.06m

B. The sound passes through water where its wavelength is 4.5m. Calculate the speed of sound in water V = fl V = 320Hz x 4.5m (frequency doesn't change) V = 1,440ms-1

Types of Waves

There are two basic types of wave. They are

  1. 1
    Transverse.
    The oscillation/vibration is at right angles to the direction of travel. An example of transverse waves are electromagnetic waves.
    an example of a transverse wave using a rope
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  2. 2
    Longitudinal Wave.
    The oscillations/vibrations are along the line of travel. These are mechanical waves because it actually moves particles. E.g. sound waves.
    an example of a longitudinal wave
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Article Info

Categories : Waves

Recent edits by: Jamie (ScienceAid Editor)

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