Waves - previous index next Introducing Waves: Strings and...

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previous index next Introducing Waves: Strings and Springs Michael Fowler 3/28/06 One-Dimensional Traveling Waves The most important kinds of traveling waves in everyday life are electromagnetic waves, sound waves, and perhaps water waves, depending on where you live. (Electromagnetic waves include X-rays, light, heat, microwaves, radio, etc.) But it’s tough to analyze waves spreading out in three dimensions, reflecting off objects, etc., so we begin with the simplest interesting examples of waves, those restricted to move along a line. Let’s start with a rope, like a clothesline, stretched between two hooks. You take one end off the hook, holding the rope, and, keeping it stretched fairly tight, wave your hand up and back once. If you do it fast enough, you’ll see a single bump travel along the rope: wave moving this way y ( x , t ) x y 0 This is the simplest example of a traveling wave . You can make waves of different shapes by moving your hand up and down in different patterns, for example an upward bump followed by a dip, or two bumps. You’ll find that the traveling wave keeps the same shape as it moves down the rope. (That’s before it reaches the end, of course—things get more complicated at that
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Waves - previous index next Introducing Waves: Strings and...

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