A wave is a disturbance that travels through a medium from one place to another.docx

A wave is a disturbance that travels through a medium from one place to another.docx

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What is a Wave? A wave is a disturbance that travels through a medium from one place to another. It does not result in the mass movement of the medium. In other words, the energy at some point in the medium is transferred to some other point without the net movement of the medium. A pulse is a single disturbance moving through the medium from one place to another. If the disturbance is continuous and is produced at specific time intervals then a progressive wave is produced. Types of Waves Transverse vs. Longitudinal Waves A wave can be classified based on its direction of travel relative to the source of the disturbance causing it. If the wave travels in the same plane as the disturbance causing it, then the wave that is produced is called a longitudinal wave . If the direction of travel of the wave is at right angles to the disturbance causing it, then a transverse wave is produced . Both types of waves can be shown by fixing a slinky at one end and holding the other. If the hand holding the slinky is moved towards and away from the body then a longitudinal wave is produced. The wave travels along the slinky as a series of compressions and rarefactions towards the fixed end. Instead, if the hand is moved up and down then a transverse wave is produced. The wave travels as a series of crests and troughs towards the fixed end of the slinky. Production of Transverse and Longitudinal Waves Electromagnetic vs. Mechanical Waves Another way to categorize waves is on the basis of their ability or inability to transmit energy through a vacuum (i.e., empty space). Categorizing waves on this basis leads to two notable categories: electromagnetic waves and mechanical waves. An electromagnetic wave is a wave that is capable of transmitting its energy through a vacuum (i.e., empty space). Electromagnetic waves are produced by the vibration of charged particles. Electromagnetic waves that are produced on the Sun subsequently travel to Earth through the vacuum of outer space. Were it not for the ability of electromagnetic waves to travel to through a vacuum, there would undoubtedly be no life on Earth. Light waves are examples of electromagnetic waves.
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A mechanical wave is a wave that is not capable of transmitting its energy through a vacuum. Mechanical waves require a medium in order to transport their energy from one location to another. A sound wave is an example of a mechanical wave. Sound waves are incapable of traveling through a vacuum. Slinky waves, water waves, stadium waves, and jump rope waves are other examples of mechanical waves; each requires some medium in order to exist. A slinky wave requires the coils of the slinky; a water wave requires water; a stadium wave requires fans in a stadium; and a jump rope wave requires a jump rope.
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  • Fall '13
  • Light, Snell's Law, Total internal reflection, Water waves

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