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Waves

What are Waves?

Waves are a very special natural phenomenon as they require a

Medium to travel through.

Waves will travel through a medium by transferring energy

between particles but won’t permanently displace the particles.

Let’s say we have a bucket of water

1. We notice the water is calm and

1. You drop a pebble into the middle of a bucket of water, as the pebble sunk you notice there are ripples forming in the water. These ripples are caused by waves.

The wave travels outwards towards the edge and water molecules get displaced in the process.

While the molecules get displaced they don’t get moved as they return to their original locations once the wave passes.

1. Once the wave has passed the water level returns to its normal level.

Properties of Waves

1. Peak/Crest – Highest point of a
2. Amplitude – Height of the wave in
3. Trough – Lowest
1. Wavelength – How Long a wave is in meters. This is measured from peak to peak or trough to trough in meters. Represented by 𝝀 (lambda).
1. Frequency – How often the wave repeats. Frequency has units of Herts (Hz) or one per second (S-1) and the symbol f. This can be calculated from the wavelength using the formulas:

5.1      where v is the speed of the wave

5.2    where T is the time period, how long it takes a wave to complete a cycle/repeat in seconds.

1. Waves come in two very different types, transverse and longitudinal.

Longitudinal waves

Longitudinal waves move matter along the waves direction of movement. These waves are transmitted through particle collisions along the waves direction.

These waves move as regions of compression and expanded pockets of matter.

For example, seismic waves, vibrations, and sound waves.

Transverse waves

Transverse waves move differently. Transverse waves have their

displacement at 90˚ to the direction the wave moves in.

In the case of water waves they pass through particle collisions along the direction of the wave too. A good example of this is taking a string and whipping it, you should form a moving wave along the string.

Most transverse waves however are light or electromagnetic waves. These waves don’t need a medium to travel through.

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