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Waves and Radiation NOTES

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Waves and Radiation

  • Waves and radiation carry energy from one location to another
  • Waves are formed when particles are pushed from their 'rest' position and are sprung back. As one particle is pushed, it pushes the particle beside it and so on.
  • Transverse waves are particles moving in a right angle. E.g. Water waves and some earthquake waves
  • Crest = top of the wave

Trough= bottom of the wave

Amplitude= distance from normal position to crest or trough

Displacement= distance from the crest to the trough

Wavelength= length of one wave, the distance between the crests or two troughs

Frequency= number of waves at a certain time

  • Progressive means moving forward
  • Standing waves do not move anywhere, and are caused by identical waves moving to the opposite of each other.
  • Water and sound waves travel through a substance whereas E.M waves do not.


  • Wave= movement of particles through a medium
  • Reflection= when an object or wave bounces off a hard surface
  • Refraction = the bending of waves
  • Dispersion= when waves spread out through a small opening
  • Break = when depth of water is slightly greater than the depth of the trough in another wave.
  • Interference= when two crests or crest and trough add together to cancel out or give a bigger wave.
  • Swell= regular ocean waves.
  • White caps = unstable breaking waves caused by the wind

A reflected wave has less energy than the original wave.

Sound waves

  • Sound is produced by the energy of vibrating objects.
  • Sound waves are a series of compressions and refractions
  • Sound waves travel through gases, liquids and solids by causing the particles to vibrate and thus cause our eardrums to vibrate.
  • Sound waves move faster in solids than gases because the particles are held together in solids.
  • Reflected sound is called an echo.
  • Sound travels at different spreads In air of different temperatures. This may cause sound waves to be bent of refracted.
  • Sonar is the use of sound waves and threw reflection to find the depth of the water.
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a soprano singer has a high pitched voice baritone has low pitched

An oscilloscope lets us see the electrical signals generated by the sound wave.

Music and Noise

  • Music is pleasant, noise is an annoying sound.
  • Ensemble is a group of musicians playing together.
  • Orchestra is a very large group of musicians playing instruments together.

Music is made by vibrating either of the following:

  1. Strings
  2. Air
  3. Flap
  • Resonance is when the waves from one vibrating object cause another to vibrate.


  • Supersonic is anything that travels faster than the speed of sound.
  • Ultrasonic are sounds above the range of human hearing
  • Ultrasound are higher frequency waves
  • Ultrasounds are waves below the range of human hearing.

Electromagnetic Waves

  • Electromagnetic waves can travel where there are no particles or substances
  • They are made of oscillating (regularly vibrating) electric and magnetic fields.
  • They are transverse waves.
  • Formed by changes in atoms.
  • When atoms gain energy, they absorb it and re-emit it as electric magnetic energy.
  • Packets of energy are called protons
  • Light all travels at the same speed of 35/08 m/s
  • Light differs in wavelengths and frequency.
  • As the wavelengths get shorter, the frequency gets higher.
  • The range of all electromagnetic waves is called a spectrum
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When light hits a rough surface and separates, it is called diffuse reflection.Regular refraction is when light passes through an object that same direction it hit it.Diffuse refraction is when light hits an object regularly but leaves facing different directions.Translucent objects are those that let light pass through but do not allow us to see. Transparent objects let light pass through while also letting us see through.

Nature of Light

  • Colors of light differ in wavelength
  • Interference of light is when light cancels each other or adds up.
  • Laser light is the only light made up of one wavelength.
  • Polarization of light is when all light waves move in the same orientation
  • The photoelectric effect is when light acts as a stream of particles.
  • Light has a "double personality": waves of light, and streams of particles.

Waves and Technology

  1. Photonics is the use of light in electronic applications
  2. Infrared radiation measures changes on the earths surface

Medical Use

  1. Ultrasound = The use of sound to produce a picture of the internal body
  2. Scattering = the physical process which particles are deflected haphazardly as a result of collisions.
  3. X-Rays can be used to kill cancer cells to stop their spread.


Speed of sound = Frequency X Wavelength

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