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Physics of water waves.

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All waves possess the properties of reflection, refraction, diffraction and interference. These phenomena’s were observed with the use of a ripple tank.

A ripple tank consists of a large rectangular tray with a transparent bottom. Water is placed in this tan to a depth of approximately one centimeter. A light source is then placed above the tray of water. When the water is disturbed it can be seen on a white surface positioned under the tray.

The first phenomenon observed was reflection. It was found that water waves also follow the law of reflection.

As straight waves strike a hard straight surface they are reflected at an angle equal to the angle of incidence. After reflection the wave has the same speed, frequency and wavelength as it did prior to the collision.

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Reflection of a parabolic or concave barrier can be closely compared to that of light waves off a concave mirror. If the incident wave was straight, the reflected waves are curved, and they converge at a fixed focal point. After passing through the focus, the radius of the curves increase. The opposite is so when circular waves strike a concave barrier. The reflected waves are then straight.

The next phenomenon observed was the refraction of water waves. The refraction was demonstrated in the ripple tank by dividing the tank into a deep and shallow region. This was achieved by placing a rectangular object into one end of the tank.

When straight waves travel from a deep region of water into a shallow region, it is found that the speed of the waves is slower in the shallower region.

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The forth and final phenomenon, which is not a boundary behaviour, is that of interference. When two sets of circular waves of the same frequency and wavelength cross in a ripple tank, an interference pattern like that drawn on the next page is formed. This is a symmetrical pattern of nodal lines and areas of maximum constructive interference.

Nodes are regions of maximum destructive interference, these are separated from each other by a distance of ½ the wavelength of the interfering wave. The nodal points are where the crest of once source meets the trough of the other source. If the two sources have the same frequency and wavelength, this area will appear to be constantly still.

Between the nodal lines are the areas of maximum displacement; these are areas of constructive interference known as antinodes. These are also separated by a distance of ½ a wavelength.

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Response to the question

The essay does not start with an introduction which is a shame as this would have introduced well what they were going to talk about in the essay and provide some sort of structure to the writing, although they do ...

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Response to the question

The essay does not start with an introduction which is a shame as this would have introduced well what they were going to talk about in the essay and provide some sort of structure to the writing, although they do provide some sort of outline for what they are going to talk about next, but the introduction needs some work. Lack of a conclusion means that the essay lacks structure in places, but the scientific detail included is very well done.

Level of analysis

The different phenomenons outlined in the essay show good scientific depth and detail to how they work and their discovery. The essay provides good scientific depth and rounding about the physics of waves overall.

Quality of writing

Spelling mistakes in some places which are see due to lack of proof-reading. Grammar, punctuation and spelling otherwise to a good standard and the format of the essay is done with clear, easy to read paragraphs.

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Reviewed by pictureperfect 05/08/2012

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