5.1 Basic Waves

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Wave Basics

A wave is means for transferring energy using oscillations. A wave can have properties described using;

  • displacement - the position of a particular point on a wave at a particular instant in time.
  • amplitude - the magnitude of the max displacement reached by an oscillation in the wave. It is the difference between the crest and 0 displacement.
  • frequency - the number of complete wave cycles per second - Hertz
  • wavelength - the distance between a point on a wave to the same point on the next cycle of the same wave e.g. two crests
  • period - time taken for one complete oscillation at one point on the next cycle of the same wave
  • phase - the stage at which a complete cycle has occured
  • wave speed - the rate of movement of the wave

wave speed  = frequency x wavelength

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Wave types

There are two types of waves;

Transverse - where the direction of particles is at right angles to the direction of energy flow e.g. light waves

Longitudinal - where the movement of particles is parallel to that of the energy flow e.g. sound waves. within a longitudinal waves there are commpression(regions of high concentration) and rarefaction ( regions of low concentration) 

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