April 11, 2014
Rolling with the waves
Waves are everywhere. But you are probably thinking, what makes a wave a wave? The characteristics, properties, and/or behavior are all characterized as a wave. What is a wave? What are the parts of a wave? Are there different wave behaviors? Can waves have sound in them? Is light apart of a wave? Those types of questions are asked at least once and if not possibly every day. Maybe explaining in examples will help many people understand. Radio waves, microwaves, and water waves are all a part of the wave system, but in different ways.
What is a wave? A wave is a disturbance that transfers energy from point to point in a medium. Remember that in a wave the disturbance or variation travels through a medium which has particles. However, the particles do not travel with the wave. The disturbance may take up shapes, from a width to a long wave. There are four distinct parts of a wave which are wavelength, amplitude, crest, and trough. Well five if you count frequency. A wavelength is the length of one complete cycle of a wave. Amplitude is the max amount of displacement. The crest is the highest point on a wave, while the trough is the lowest point on a wave. Frequency is the number of waves. Reflection, refraction, diffraction, constructive interference, destructive interference, and superposition are all a part of wave behaviors. What exactly are the wave behaviors? I’m getting to it, hold on. Reflection is when the wave bounces off something. Refraction is when a wave passes through a boundary to a different medium. Diffraction is when a wave passes through a barrier. Constructive interference occurs when two or more mix together. Destructive interference is a straightforward extension meaning that two waves are shifted by half a wavelength. Destructive interference is basically out of phase. Last but not least, superposition which is when vibrations are at any point in an individual wave....