ch16 - The Big Ideas-Chapter 16(Serway and Beichner Physics...

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The Big Ideas—Chapter 16 (Serway and Beichner, Physics for Scientists and Engineers, 5 th Edition) AJM:1/22/01 1 Sections 1&2 Mechanical waves are traveling patterns of disturbance in a medium. Waves may be characterized as periodic or aperiodic according to whether or not (respectively) the pattern repeats itself spatially over a distance called the wavelength . They may be characterized as dispersive or nondispersive according to whether or not (respectively) the waveform changes with time. They may be characterized as transverse or longitudinal according to whether the direction of the disturbance is perpendicular or parallel (respectively) to the direction of the wave motion. They may be characterized as one-dimensional , two-dimensional , or three-dimensional according to the number of spatial coordinates required to describe the wave motion. They may be characterized as linear or nonlinear according to whether or not (respectively) they obey the superposition principle (see section 4). Nondispersive periodic waves are further characterized by a temporal repetition that may be quantified in terms of the period , the frequency , or the angular frequency all of which are simply related. Similarly, they are characterized by a spatial repetition that may be quantified in
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