(2)Longitudinal and Transverse waves

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  • Created on: 25-03-14 13:13
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Longitudinal and Transverse waves.
LONGITUDINAL
Waves in which the direction of vibration of the particles is parallel to the direction in which the wave
travels. You get a series of compressions and
rarefactions. E.g. sound waves, primary
seismic waves. Describing Waves with
Graphs
To study the motion of the vibrating
particles on a wave, we draw graphs. Two types of graphs are commonly used:
Displacement-Distance graphs
Displacement-Time graphs
Displacement-Distance graphs:
A displacement-distance graph is also called a displacement-position graph. It shows
the displacement of the particles at various positions at a certain time.
Although it looks like a photograph of a transverse wave, it can be used to describe
BOTH a transverse and a longitudinal wave (Figures a. and b.)
Fig b. Displacement-distance graph of a longitudinal wave at t=0.
From a displacement-distance graph, we can directly read the following information:
Amplitude
Wavelength
Locations of crests and troughs (for a transverse wave), or compressions and
rarefactions (for a longitudinal wave)
The displacement-distance graph is especially useful to study a longitudinal wave. For
example, look at the displacement of compression: it is zero unlike the crest. This is easy to
notice on the graphs.

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Fig c. Time series of Displacement-Distance graphs of a wave.
Using a series of displacement-distance graphs at various times us can see the
motion of the wave (Figure c.)
By comparing the changes in these graphs, we can deduce the travelling speed and
direction of the wave, as well as the time-varying directions of the motion of the vibrating
particles.
Polarisation can be used to distinguish between longitudinal and transverse waves since
only transverse waves show polarisation effects.…read more

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Transverse Wave: Displacement-Distance Graph
Key Terms:
Displacement: distance and direction from the equilibrium point
Amplitude: maximum displacement from equilibrium
Wavelength: distance between 2 adjacent particles which have the same phase
Frequency: number of oscillations per second by the source / number of waves passing a
point per second.…read more

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Note: The symbol (c) is used as a general symbol for the speed of waves. In the data booklet, (c) refers to the speed of
electromagnetic waves in free space (speed of light).
Phase Difference:
PHASE DIFFERENCE between two vibrating particles is the fraction of a cycle between
the vibrations of the two particles.…read more

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A displacement-distance graph is also called a displacement-position graph. It shows
the displacement of the particles at various positions at a certain time.
Although it looks like a photograph of a transverse wave, it can be used to describe
BOTH a transverse and a longitudinal wave (Figures a. and b.)
Fig a. Displacement-distance graph of a transverse wave at t=0.…read more

Page 6

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Plane of Polarisation: The plane in which the medium oscillates and the energy is
propagated.…read more

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