Waves are disturbances that propagate through space and time. Classically, they travelled through a medium, disturbing the particles but not changing their mean position. Electromagnetic waves/particle-waves need no medium; they are disturbances in their respective fields.

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What is a wave?

I was watching an outtake of Prof. Brian Cox talking to a tv producer about "gravity waves". Their discussion got a bit side-tracked, because the non-scientist didn't seem to understand what a wave ...
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540 views

Why doesn't the magnetic field polarize when polarizing light?

If the magnetic field doesn't polarize does it follow the electric field path of propagation? or does it vanish?
3
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2answers
232 views

Diffraction by a lens

The fraunhoffer treatment of circular apertures yields a diffraction pattern of circles, with the first minimum (dark ring) at an angular radius of $\theta$ where $\sin(\theta)=1.22\lambda/b$, where ...
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The energy of an electromagnetic wave

The intensity of an electromagnetic wave is only related to its amplitude $E^2$ and not its frequency. A photon has the same wavelength as the wave that's carrying it, and its energy is $h f$. So ...
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1answer
7k views

Science behind the singing wine glass

A wine glass filled with water (approximately half or a quarter), when you use a wet finger and rub the top of the wine glass, the wine glass will produce a sound. I heard that it is because of the ...
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2answers
829 views

Refraction of light and frequency dependence

Why do higher frequency waves refract more, both ocean waves and light waves? Also why is energy stored in the frequency as opposed to the wavelength.
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50 views

Derivation of group velocity?

In the standard simplified derivation of group velocity (which can be found here) we use two waves $$y_1=A\sin(K_1x-\omega_1 t)$$ $$y_2=A\sin(K_2x-\omega_2 t)$$ In the proof we then get ...
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1answer
501 views

Deriving the group velocity of a wave produced by some basic cosine waves with unequal amplitudes

Consider some basic cosine waves of the form ${E_i} = {E_0}\cos ({\omega _i}t - {k_i}z)$ with different amplitudes, frequencies and phases. We know a combination of such waves could result in a wave ...
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1answer
147 views

Uncertainty and wave-trains

My textbook and the following extract from feynman's lectures present the same idea regarding wavetrains and uncertainty in their wavelengths. Why is it that a wavetrain confined to some space has an ...
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1answer
299 views

Help me to visualize this wave equation in time, to which direction it moves?

The wave is $\bar{E} = E_{0} sin(\frac{2\pi z}{\lambda} + wt) \bar{i} + E_{0} cos(\frac{2 \pi z}{\lambda}+wt) \bar{j}$ Let's simplify with $z = 1$. Now the xy-axis is defined by parametrization ...
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4answers
2k views

Electro Magnetic Waves can cause matter displacement?

After watching this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1jIjx0XF_U The experience is made with a speaker that generates a sound wave or mechanic wave. Can you use this to establish a link to ...
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8answers
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Since cables carry electricity moving at the speed of light, why aren't computer networks much faster?

Why can't cables used for computer networking transfer data really fast, say at the speed of light? I ask this because electricity travels at the speed of light. Take Ethernet cables for example, I ...
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9answers
4k views

Why does wavelength affect diffraction?

I have seen many questions of this type but I could nowhere find the answer to "why". I know this is a phenomenon which has been seen and discovered and we know it happens and how it happens. But my ...
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2answers
1k views

Are gravitational waves longitudinal or transverse?

Waves are generally classified as either transverse or longitudinal depending on the they way the propagated quantity is oriented with respect to the direction of propagation. Then what is a ...
39
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7answers
4k views

Why don't two musical instruments sometimes generate destructive interference?

I'm an electrical engineer, and I understand wave propagation, interference patterns, and so on. But I'm missing something basic, so perhaps my understanding isn't as good as I believe. I'll show my ...
20
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1answer
575 views

What determines the speed of waves in water?

While I was walking my dog this morning, I passed over a canal filled with boats, barges, and kayaks all of different masses and moving at different speeds. I noticed that all of these vessels left ...
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3answers
3k views

Can light emit light?

How and why does the Huygens principle really work? I mean, does it always work? The Huygens principle: Every point on a wave-front may be considered a source of secondary spherical wavelets ...
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2answers
1k views

First-order wave equation: Why is its presence not common?

The (one-dimensional) wave equation is the second-order linear partial differential equation $$\frac{\partial^2 f}{\partial x^2}=\frac{1}{v^2}\frac{\partial^2 f}{\partial t^2}\tag{second order PDE}$$ ...
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1answer
250 views

Why doesn't amplitude affect the speed of sound?

I understand why amplitude doesn't affect the speed of the sound AFTER the 'leading compression'. The extra force provided on one stage of the cycle is countered on the other stage. But shouldn't the ...
14
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1answer
576 views

Why is Huygens' principle only valid in an odd number of spatial dimensions?

Apparently Huygens' principle is only valid in an odd number of spatial dimensions: http://mathoverflow.net/a/5396/21349 Huygen's principle in curved spacetimes Why is this? [EDIT] This is ...
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1answer
2k views

Theory behind patterns formed on Chladni plates?

In this video of vibrating Chladni plates we can see small sand particles align themselves into different interesting patterns (also shown in the image below) which correspond to some particular ...
5
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2answers
472 views

Which solution to the electromagnetic wave equation is the most accurate model of monochromatic light?

When a photon is modeled as a monochromatic electromagnetic wave its electric and magnetic components are usually taken to be sine waves (for example here ...
6
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1answer
5k views

What is light, and how can it travel in a vacuum forever in all directions at once without a medium?

I know there are many questions that are similar (maybe identical?). I am not a physicist nor a student - I am just interested in physics and have been watching many physics channels on youtube ...
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3answers
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What is the mass of a wave?

The slide called "QUANTA" here says that "One Quantum has a definite mass" and the picture shows a wave. So, What is meant by the mass of a wave?
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3answers
242 views

The ubiquitous Planewave Ansatz

In physics, the planewave ansatz (meaning: an educated solution guess) is very ubiquitously used, when solving differential equations, in different domains of physics. E.g. to solve the dispersion ...
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2answers
382 views

What Exactly is a Shock Wave?

The Wikipedia defintion of a shock wave pretty much sums up all I've found online about what a shock wave is: A shock wave is a type of propagating disturbance. Like an ordinary wave, it carries ...
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1answer
149 views

Discretizing the Wave Equation in polar coordinates

I want to discretize the wave equation $$\frac{1}{c^2}\frac{\partial^2\psi\left(\vec{r},t\right)}{\partial t^2}=\triangle\psi\left(\vec{r},t\right)$$ in polar coordinates. I find the following ...
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1answer
77 views

Speed of sound and Break the sound barrier

What happens when plane exceeds the speed of sound? and What is the interpretation of the conical shape that appears behind the plane?
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1answer
695 views

Slinky reverb: the origin of the iconic Star Wars blaster sound

This is a fun problem that I came across recently, which I'm posting here for your delectation. We all love a good slinky: they can be used for all sorts of fun demos in physics. One example is the ...
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3answers
1k views

Complex numbers in optics

I have recently studied optics. But I feel having missed something important: how can amplitudes of light waves be complex numbers?
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2answers
391 views

Are there “gaps” in light, or will it hit everywhere?

Not sure how to word my question. Picture a light source in vacuum, so nothing disturbs the light (or similar conditions), 2d. If I move very, very far away, will it happen that some of the light ...
7
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6answers
686 views

How do traveling waves pass through a standing wave node, if the node doesn't move?

I'm having trouble with the explanation that a standing wave in a string is the superposition of traveling waves. The nodes in the diagram above are points where the particles of the string's ...
7
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1answer
128 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 ...
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612 views

How does infrared light 'erase' phosphorescence on zinc sulfide?

I found some sheets of zinc sulfide in my basement that phosphoresce green for up to 24 hours or so after exposure to bright light in the violet range or shorter. One of the first things I tried was ...
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372 views

Will a wave packet undergo dispersion when traveling down a hanging rope?

Suppose I tie one end of a rope to my ceiling and the other end to a spot on my floor directly underneath it. Because the rope has some mass, the tension varies along the rope, from highest at the ...
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1answer
196 views

Is Huygen's Principle Axiomatic?

Is Huygens Principle just a fundamental way to understand light? It always seemed to me that it was somehow "derived" or that it should be-but is it simply a well-founded theory?
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2answers
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Reflection of transverse and longitudinal waves

Why is it that when a transverse wave is reflected from a 'rigid' surface, it undergoes a phase change of $\pi$ radians, whereas when a longitudinal wave is reflected from a rigid surface, it does not ...
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1answer
3k views

The relationship between the energy and amplitude of a wave? Derivation?

From multiple online sources I read that $$E \propto A^2$$ but when I mentioned this in class, my teacher told me I was wrong and that it was directly proportional to amplitude instead. As far as I ...
5
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2answers
195 views

In terms of the Doppler effect, what happens when the source is moving faster than the wave?

I'm just trying to understand this problem from a qualitative perspective. The Doppler effect is commonly explained in terms of how a siren sounds higher in pitch as it is approaching a particular ...
5
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3answers
432 views

Physics of a guitar

I understand that when you pluck a guitar string, then a bunch of harmonic frequencies are produced rather than just the frequency of the desired note. If this is true, why does C2 sound so different ...
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4answers
4k views

Confused over complex representation of the wave

My quantum mechanics textbook says that the following is a representation of a wave traveling in the +$x$ direction:$$\Psi(x,t)=Ae^{i\left(kx-\omega t\right)}\tag1$$ I'm having trouble visualizing ...
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1answer
398 views

How far do air particles move when a sound wave passes through them?

How far do air particles move when a sound wave passes through them? I know that they don't actually travel, the question is how far do they oscillate or what is the physical amplitude of the ...
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3answers
2k views

how to add two plane waves if they are propagating in different direction?

In the undergraduate course about the wave, there stated for two harmonic waves propagating in opposite direction, then the resulting wave will be a standing wave. In math, it is like $$y_1 = ...
3
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3answers
523 views

waves on water generated by a falling object

Let an object of mass $m$ and volume $v$ be dropped in water from height $h$, and $a$ be the amplitude of the wave generated. What is the relation between $a$ and $h$. How many waves are generated? ...
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2answers
1k views

Energy in an EM wave should depend on frequency

I just finished reading Feynman's Lectures on Physics vol.I, §34-9: "The momentum of light". The author explains that there is a relation between the wave 4-vector $k^{\mu}$ and the energy-momentum ...
3
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1answer
809 views

Simple Quantum Mechanics question about the Free particle, (part1)

I am reading Introduction to Quantum Mechanics by David Griffiths and I am in Ch2 page 59. He starts out writing the time dependent Schrödinger equation and the solution for $\psi(x,t)$ for the free ...
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3answers
83 views

Can “particle” waves break as ocean waves do?

I have heard about electrons surfing on wake fields which got me thinking. Are there analogs to reefs for these waves and can these waves break as ocean waves do when they hit a reef?
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1answer
87 views

Diffraction and $k$-space

Regarding diffraction I am a little bit lost reading about reciprocal space and the space of $k$'s. As I understand it the Fourier relationship between a wavepacket $\Psi(\vec r,t)$ and the complex ...
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1answer
232 views

Why maximum energy transfer at natural frequency even if max amplitude occurs below $f_0$

This is a paragraph from my book: "For a damped system, the resonant frequency at which the amplitude is a maximum is lower than the natural frequency.However, maximum transfer of energy, or energy ...
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2answers
1k views

Fresnel distance and Geometrical limit

I read about the geometrical limit of wave theory. The source from where I read had a slightly different explanation to provide than here(The more rigorous answer is too complicated for me to ...