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Waves in Physics

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More Lessons for High School Physics

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A series of free Online High School Physics Video Lessons.

In this lesson, we will learn

  • Wave Phase
  • Standing Waves
  • Transverse Waves
  • Longitudinal Waves

Wave Phase
Wave phase is the offset of a wave from a given point. When two waves cross paths, they either cancel each other out or compliment each other, depending on their phase. These effects are called constructive and destructive.
Understanding the concept of wave phase.

Standing Waves
Standing waves, also known as stationary waves, are waves formed by the combination of two waves with equal amplitudes and frequencies. Because of the interference between these waves, standing waves don't travel at all. There are points along the wave, called nodes, which don't seem to move at all but vibrate in place.
Understanding standing waves.
Demonstration of standing waves on a string. How the standing waves are generated, harmonics and more is explained here.
The derivation for the harmonic frequencies of standing waves on a string attached at both ends.

Transverse Waves
Transverse waves are waves which move particles in a direction perpendicular to the direction of a wave. An example of transverse waves are ocean waves in which water moves up and down, but does not move forward with the wave. The counterparts to transverse waves are longitudinal waves which move particles in the direction that the wave moves.
Understanding transverse waves.
Particles move perpendicular to the direction of energy transfer
Crest - Top of the Wave
Trough - Bottom of the wave
Wavelength - Measure from one point on one wave to the same point on the next wave
Amplitude - Height of a wave measured from rest position
Speed depends on the medium
Energy is proportional to the square of the amplitude
Simulation -Wave on a String
Longitudinal Waves
Longitudinal waves are waves which move particles in the direction of the wave motion. They are the counterparts to transverse waves which move particles parallel to the direction of wave motion.
Understanding longitudinal waves.
Particles vibrate parallel to the direction energy is transferred
Compression - Particles closer together
Rarefaction - Particles more spread out
Speed of the wave depends on the medium and not on the amplitude
Simulation - Wave Interference

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