Dispersion refers to the frequency dependence of the properties of a wave.

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Why are the harmonics of a piano tone not multiples of the base frequency?

I was trying to figure out which piano keys were being played in an audio recording using spectral analysis, and I noticed that the harmonics are not integer multiple of the base note. What is the ...
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Why does my wooden door disperse light into a rainbow color spectrum?

On a clear morning, light comes through this window (viewed from the inside) It then hits the door on the opposite side (so viewing from the outside the door straight on the other side) There is ...
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Why do prisms work (why is refraction frequency dependent)?

It is well known that a prism can "split light" by separating different frequencies of light: Many sources state that the reason this happens is that the index of refraction is different for ...
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Does a man on the moon experience day?

Does a man on the moon (or any other similar body) experience daytime like we do? By daytime I mean looking upward and seeing a bright "sky," not dark space. If not, then what is the reason behind it?...
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658 views

What makes a wave dispersive?

Water waves are dispersive ( longer wavelengths travel faster ) but sound waves in air are not, otherwise we would listen first the high frequencies and the low frequencies after. What decides if a ...
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148 views

Minimal Extension of Wave Equation to Include Dispersion

Let's say you are modeling some process with the wave equation $\frac{1}{c^{2}}\frac{\partial^{2}\psi}{\partial t^{2}} = \nabla^{2}\psi$. You wish to improve your model by including dispersive effects,...
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678 views

Dispersion of ferromagnetic ($E\propto k^2$) and antiferromagnetic ($E\propto k$) spin wave

The dispersion of ferromagnetic spin wave at low energy is $E\propto k^2$, while $E\propto k$ for antiferromagnetic case. Is there a simple/physical argument (such as symmetry) for these results? ...
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122 views

What is energy in $z \neq 1 $ theories?

In a critical theory with dynamical critical exponent $z \neq 1 $, which amongst frequency, $\omega$, and dispersion, $E(\vec{k})$, may be referred to as ''energy''? I'm confused about this since in ...
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Is speed of sound really constant?

Does not speed of sound actually depend on the frequency and/or amplitude of the waves? If so, why it is constant?
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312 views

PDE from dispersion relation?

Suppose I have knowledge of a system's dispersion relation $f(\omega,k)$. Is it possible to recover the underlying PDE describing the system? Can I simply use the replacement $k=-i\nabla$, $\omega=i\...
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Why do some types of waves disperse?

We know that some mediums/waves are non-dispersive such as air for sound waves, and waves on a string. But, why do some waves, for example deep water waves, disperse? I am trying to understand the ...
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445 views

Which electromagnetic radiation is faster in water, microwaves or light?

Well I've been asked this question, but I haven't been able to come with an answer yet using books and some web searches. The point is as the title says, to answer the question with the whole ...
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Numerical Solution of the Propagation-Dispersion equation

I have asked this question on Computational Science and also on Mathoverflow, but no satisfactory answers so far. I thought maybe the physics community could shed some insight on the issue. I am ...
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Why does Snell's law not factor in wavelength?

If dispersion is caused due to different wavelengths bending with different angles, how is Snell's law right in generalizing it as $\sin(i) / \sin(r)$? Or am I missing something?
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Interpretation of dispersion relation

In my research, I found that my system has the following dispersion relation: $$\omega^2=k^2+k_0^2\ , $$ where $k_0^{-1}$ is an intrinsic lengthscale of the system and the units are chosen so that the ...
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Linear vs. quadratic dispersion relation

In wave mechanics the dispersion relation between frequency $\omega$ and wave number $k$ is linear: $$\omega_n=c k_n$$ But in quantum mechanics, based on Schrödinger's equation, one can show that we ...
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399 views

Is it possible to implement the reversed dispersion of a white light beam and how?

The dispersion of white light beam while passing through a triangular prism is well known. Considering the reversibility of optical path, it should be possible to reverse the experiment. How can ...
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401 views

Fermat principle: which index of refraction?

I am somewhat puzzled by a common formulation of the Fermat principle (light travel time), because it contains index of refraction related to phase velocity while light travel time through a slab of ...
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Dispersion Relation for Convective Wave Equation

The convective wave equation governs the propagation of sound in the presence of mean flow: $$ \frac{D^2p'}{Dt^2}-\bar{c}^2\nabla^2p'=0 $$ or, expanded out: $$ \frac{\partial^2p'}{\partial t^2}+2\...
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How to calculate dispersion relation from a Finite Difference (FD) wave simulation

I have a python code that calculates the solution of the inhomogeneous acoustic wave equation for a 2D medium with any velocity and source configuration. It was implemented using Finite Differences ...
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Equations of motion of displacement field

We have an action: $$S[\boldsymbol{u}] = \frac{1}{2} \int dt \int d^3x \left\{ \mu (\frac{\partial u_{i}}{\partial t})^{2} - \nu (u_{ii})^{2} - \rho(u_{ij})^{2}\right\} $$ Where $u_{ij} = (\partial_{...
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Why do wave packets spread out over time?

Why do wave functions spread out over time? Where in the math does quantum mechanics state this? As far as I've seen, the waves are not required to spread, and what does this mean if they do?
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Non-linear waves and shock formation

In the cases of non-linear acoustics, why is shock formation unlikely when the dispersion is strong when compared to the non-linearity of the wave?
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Is dispersion a property of medium or wave

I got a problem in learning Lewin's 'Vibration and Waves'. He first solve the eigenvalue of 5 beats connecting together and with fixed boundary condition. Then the velocity for different modes are ...
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161 views

More extensions of the wave equation for dispersion

The Phys.SE question Minimal Extension of Wave Equation to Include Dispersion extended the wave equation for only a very simple form of dispersion. However, what about more complex dispersion ...
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88 views

Dispersion relation for lattice vibrations: Why are there two and not four solutions?

A linear chain of diatomic molecules can be modeled by a chain of molecules with different spring constants $C_1$ and $C_2$ (See Figure) The corresponding equations of motion are: $$M\ddot{u}=-c_1[...
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Dispersion-less media

As far as I know, vacuum is the only dispersion free medium for electromagnetic waves. This makes me wonder if there are any other dispersion free media for these waves? (Experimentally established or ...
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Why do water waves with longer wavelengths travel faster?

When wind blows over the sea, it excites a range of wavelengths. Why do longer wavelengths travel faster?
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203 views

Why grating is an essential part of a monochromator?

From looking at these two images, it appears that the dispersed "rays" of the reflected light could be manipulated just as well if the reflecting mirror would be turned to a fixed angle. So why is ...
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1answer
278 views

Why don't the De Broglie dispersion relation contain a constant term?

Wikipedia says that the dispersion relation for a non-relativistic particle is: $$ \omega = \frac{\hbar k^2}{2m}. $$ But when I tried to calculate it myself, I seem to get a constant term in that ...
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What is the difference between dispersion and diffusion?

What is the difference between dispersion and diffusion? Currently I believe, that diffusion is the mixture of molecules due to Brownian motion. So I read everywhere, that it happens with magnitude of ...
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Two different mediums can have equal index of refraction?

In other words: given a certain medium, is light's phase velocity unique?
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154 views

What experimental evidence shows that sound velocity is the same for all wavelengths?

I'm studying sound waves with Halliday's book, and after reading the whole chapter, one of the questions suggested was: What is the experimental evidence that allows the assumption that the sound ...
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190 views

Why linear wave equation does not have solitonic solutions?

As many people define solitary waves they are localized pulses that propagate without changing the shape. As far as I know the same pulses exist in ordinary wave equation ! why should we look for ...
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Why is rainbow always circular?

From the article that I read on physics classroom website on rainbow, rainbow is formed with red on the top and violet on the bottom because violet refracts more, and has a smaller angle of deviation ...
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Why does the speed of the Electromagnetic wave in the material depend on the frequency of the wave where as they are constant in vacuum (freespace)? [duplicate]

I am confused on why would the propagation speed of any EM waves at ANY frequency is constant in the free space (vacuum) but they seem to disperse in any other materials as the propagation speed of EM ...
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1answer
508 views

Dispersion relation for TE and TM waves in general anisotropic medium

I want to calculate the dispersion relation (the relation between $\bf k$ and permittivity and permeability tensors and $\omega$) for a TE and a TM wave with wave vector $\mathbf k=k_x\mathbf {\hat x}+...
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1answer
190 views

Refraction of white light through a glass slab: what does it actually look like?

When a collimated beam of white light enters a rectangular prism, it develops slightly coloured edges due to the dispersive refraction of the glass: each ray in the beam is displaced differently ...
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Rayleigh length determination for Laguerre-Gaussian Modes

Recently I have measured the Rayleigh length of a Gaussian electron beam probe in a scanning electron microscope, using the function: $$w(z) = w_0 \times \sqrt{1 + (z/z_r)^2}$$ Where $w$ is beam ...
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How to calculate the dispersion relation for a wave equation with non-constant speed of wave propagation?

Specifically, it is a one-dimensional wave equation for waves on a string with a non-constant cross-section, i. e. $$S(x)=S_1+S_2 \cos{2x}; \qquad c(x)=\sqrt{F/\rho\, S(x)}.$$ Separating the variables ...
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What is the difference between Lehmann-Kallen and Dispersion relation?

I know that the Lehmann-Kallen (LK) form of an operator concerns just that, an operator. But the LK is very similar in form to dispersion relations found in analytic S-matrix theory.
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Derviation of group velocity

I am working thru a derivation of the group velocity formula and I get to this stage: $$y=2A\cos(x\frac{\Delta K}{2} -t\frac{\Delta \omega}{2})\sin( \bar k x-\bar \omega t)$$ Then all the derivations ...
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Dispersion Relation (e vs. k) clarification (crystal momentum or electron momentum)

If we get the dispersion relation from the Fourier transform of the lattice vectors then how do we get electrons information? Specifically, for the $k=0$ point of the graph, does this mean the ...
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Frequency dependence of the speed of light in air

According to this link, the speed of light of different colors in a medium should be different. But if the refractive index of light in air is 1 then this means that the speed of light in air and ...
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Why is it possible to choose an arbitrary zero energy level when dealing with frequencies of a wave function?

This is a followup of my previous Why don't the De Broglie dispersion relation contain a constant term? question. Answerers pointed out that only differences in energy matter I can understand ...
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673 views

Is $E=\hbar \omega$ correct for massive particles?

From Planck's relation we can say that the energy of a photon is $$E=h\nu=\hbar \omega \, .$$ where $\hbar \equiv h / 2\pi$. On the other hand, the energy of a free particle can be expressed as $$E=...
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Is difference in wave number always small?

Over the last few days I have been looking at a derivation of group velocity. The derivation is the one shown in this question Deriving group velocity. I have seen this derivation in many places, and ...
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The lineshape of a 2D photonic crystal dispersion diagram

Using simulation software (CST Studio), I calculated the dispersion of the eigenmodes of a photonic crystal, that is frequency vs wavenumber for the desired propagation direction. I wonder what kind ...
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Expectation value and Dispersion of an Operator

Suppose we have an operator $Q$ with eigenvalue $q$. Expectation value is $\langle Q \rangle$ and dispersion $D(Q) = \sqrt{\langle \left( Q - \langle Q \rangle \right)^2 \rangle} $. I want to find ...
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Light dispersion in water

Simple question: Water is clearly not disspersive if we have it, for example, in a glass of water. We don't see the rainbow through a glass of water. However drops of water disperse light in the ...