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Properties of waves

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Properties of waves

I. What is a wave
A wave is a disturbance that carries energy through matter or space.

II. Most waves travel through a medium
i. sound travels as a wave
a. the air through which sound travels is its medium
ii. earth quakes make waves called seismic waves that travel through earth
a. medium- the matter through which a wave travels
b. waves that require a medium to travel through are called mechanical waves
1. almost all waves are mechanical waves
2. an exception to this is electromagnetic waves
III. Light does not require a medium
i. light can travel from the sun to the earth across the empty space
ii. this is possible because light waves do not need a medium to t ravel through
iii. light waves consist of changing electric and magnetic fields in space
a. electromagnetic waves- a wave caused by a disturbance in electric and magnetic fields and that does not require a medium
IV. Waves transfer energy
i. waves carry energy because they can do work.
ii. Ii. The bigger the wave is, the more energy it carries
a. A cruise ship moving through water in the ocean could create waves big enough to move a fishing boat up and down a few meters.
iii. Tsunami- a huge ocean wave caused by earthquakes

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a. A small ribbon tied in the middle of the rope would help visualize this
ii. as the wave approaches, the ribbon moves up in the air, away fro its resting position.(crest)
iii. as the rope goes past the ribbon, in sinks down past its original resting position(trough)
iv. The motion of each part of the rope is like the vibrating motion of a mass hanging on a spring.
a. As one part of the rope moves up and down, it pulls on the part next to it, transferring energy.
1. in this way, a wave passes along the length of the rope
X. Transverse and Longitudinal waves
i. particles in a medium can vibrate either up and down or back and forth.
ii. waves are often classified by the direction that the particles in the medium move as a wave passes by
XI. Transverse waves have perpendicular motion.
i. in the rope and door knob example, each particle in the rope moves straight up and down as the wave passes by from left to right
a. in theses cases, the motion of the particles in the rope, is perpendicular to the motion of the wave as a whole
b. waves in which the motion of the particles is perpendicular to the motion of the wave as a whole are called transverse waves
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a. The period is also the time required for one complete vibration of a particle in a medium
b. in equations; the period is represented by the symbol T.
1. Because the period is a time measurement, it is expressed in the SI unit seconds
XVII. Frequency measures the rate of vibrations
i. the frequency of a wave is the number of full wavelengths that pass a point in a given time interval
a. the frequency of a wave also measures how rapidly vibrations occur in the medium, at the source of the wave, or both.
ii. The symbol for frequency is f.
a. the SI unit for measuring frequency is hertz (HZ), named after Heinrich Hertz who in 1888 became the first person to experimentally demonstrate electromagnetic waves.
1. Hertz units measure the number of vibrations per second
iii. You can hear frequencies as low as 20 Hz, and as high as 20,000 Hz.
a. when you hear 20,000 Hz, there are 20,000 compressions hitting your ear every second
iv. Frequency Period equation
frequency = 1/ period
XVIII. Light comes in a wide range of frequencies and wavelengths
i. our eyes can detect light with frequencies ranging from 4.3x 10^14 to 7.5x 10^14
a. light in this range is called visible light
1. The differences in frequency in visible light account for the different colors we see.
ii. Electromagnetic waves also exist at other frequencies that we cannot see directly
a. the full range of light at different frequencies and wavelengths is called the electromagnetic spectrum.

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