Properties of Waves

Edited by Jamie (ScienceAid Editor), Taylor (ScienceAid Editor), Ali_ch0, SmartyPants

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 is 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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Questions and Answers

For mechanical waves how are they created and how are they similar to electromagnetic waves?

I know that mechanical waves require a medium and electromagnetic do not but I do not know if the parts of the two waves are the same for the both waves or if they are created differently. Do all waves require the same parts to form the waves like electromagnetic waves and are there different things we need to know about who similar or different they are from each other. I have tried: Search other websites and found only a few details and not enough information. I think it was caused by: I'm so lost I don't know. I know the mediums are required but I'm so confused on what they mean about that.

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Article Info

Categories : Waves

Recent edits by: Ali_ch0, Taylor (ScienceAid Editor), Jamie (ScienceAid Editor)

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