Physics: Waves - Topic Review

Table of Contents
  • Medium: the material through which a wave travels

Wave Properties

  • Vibrating objects transfer energy through waves
  • Waves are classified by what they move through
  • There are two types: mechanical and electromagnetic

Mechanical Waves

  • Mechanical waves transfer energy through vibrations in a medium
  • Examples include water, sound and wind
  • A wave can be a single pulse, or continuous

Waves only transfer energy from one point to another. THEY DO NOT TRANSFER MATTER! However, matter may move as the wave passes through it.

  • Mechanical waves can be either transverse or longitudinal.
    • In a transverse wave, particles oscillate (move back and forth) perpendicular (at 90°) to the direction of energy transfer.
    • In a longitudinal wave, particles move parallel to the direction of energy transfer.
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  • This simulation demonstrates a wave - PHET COLORADO

Measuring Mechanical Waves

  • Waves can be represented by displacement-distance graphs and displacement-time graphs.
  • The graph takes a sinusoidal shape (like a sine wave)
    Wave Graph
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