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Study Guide : Waves

Learner Guide


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When you are at the beach, you can see the water waves moving up and

down when the tides come in. The waves are transverse: they move at 90⁰

to the direction they are travelling in. The same effect can be created when



hold a piece of rope at one end and wiggle it up and down. The up and down

motion is called undulation. Water waves can reflect or bounce off a surface.

For example, the water waves in a bath hit the sides of the bath tub and

are reflected.



When two waves meet each other, the overall shape of the wave changes.

They can add or cancel each other. This is called superposition. When two

waves come together that are in phase with each other, the waves add to

make a higher wave with a greater amplitude. When two waves come together

that are out of phase, the waves cancel each other out, and so there is no

overall wave.


Sound Waves

Sound waves are different to water waves, they are longitudinal. They can

only travel through solid, liquid or gas. This means that there is no sound in a

vacuum. A vacuum is an enclosed empty space where there is no air. The

speed of sound through solids, liquids and gases is different. It is the measured

in the same way we measure the speed of moving objects – distance / time

taken. Sound travels faster through solids than liquids or gases as the

particles are closer together.

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Related Topics

Solids-liquids-gases                Forces-movement                           Electricity

Energy                                       Electromagnetism                            Space



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