What is a wave?

sine wave by bdu on flickr

New topic – yay!  We’ll learn about waves – which is very topical at the moment considering all the earthquakes in Japan.  Before we get on to seismic waves we need to have a basic understanding of what a wave is.  Here are some of the points we’ll try and answer:-

  • What is a wave?
  • What is the difference between transverse and longitudinal waves?
  • What are some examples of transverse and longitudinal waves?
  • What are the amplitude, frequency and wavelength of a wave?

Anatomy of Waves

We’ll then take a look at the wave equation       v = f λ

This shows us the relationship between speed of a wave v, the time it takes for a particle to vibrate up and down, and the distance between successive waves λ.  You’ll need your calculators as we practice solving problems in class.

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