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.

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

4
votes
3answers
10k views

Do light and sound waves have mass

I have been reading Hawking's 'A Brief History of Time' and it has gotten me thinking about Einstein's theory of relativity, in that it assumes that an object must have infinite mass if it is to be ...
11
votes
7answers
2k views

Why aren't there compression waves in electromagnetic fields?

I just started learning about optics, and in the book I'm reading they explain how the electrical field caused by a single charged particle could be described by a series of field lines, and compare ...
7
votes
1answer
9k 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
2k views
4
votes
1answer
2k views

Is it possible to use “negative sound waves” to “cancel out” a sound to create silence?

I saw youtube videos that claimed to do this, although I'm quite certain the videos just excluded sound and lied. However, I am wondering if the physics of this is actually possible - to create a ...
2
votes
2answers
771 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
392 views

What does a light wave look like (3d model)

What does a light wave look like? The only models I can seem to find online are 2D waves, they just look like sin() graphs. I have seen the models of the two components of "light waves" (electric ...
14
votes
4answers
2k views

Can light waves cause beats?

My question is pretty brief. When two sound waves of nearly same frequencies interfere, we get beats. But, I have not observed something like that happening in the case of light. In fact, most of the ...
10
votes
3answers
599 views

Do particles in a sound wave ever move transversally?

I'm trying to visualize how sound waves work and I was curious about something. So sound moves in longitudinal waves, which I think I understand. There is a really good khanacademy video explaining ...
8
votes
1answer
161 views

Wavy stream of liquid

When pouring a liquid into a glass some streams have a wavy shape, like the one in the following photo: (Couldn't find a better picture, sorry.) What causes the stream to be of such a shape?
8
votes
2answers
3k views

The shape of speaker cones

This is related to another question I just asked, but they are different enough I thought it deserved its own spot. Speaker elements seem to always be shaped like a cone with a portion of a sphere at ...
8
votes
2answers
960 views

Can someone explain how water from a garden hose can propagate in a sine/cosine wave?

A video posted on Youtube. How does this phenomenon work? I know he is using frequency to propagate water in a sine/cosine wave, but how does it exactly work this way? Why do we see it as if its ...
7
votes
2answers
451 views

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 ...
6
votes
1answer
9k 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
16k views

Why can't light pass through walls but sound can?

When I sit in a room I can hear voices coming from the adjacent room but the light in adjacent room does not enter my room i.e. sound waves travels through the wall but light waves can't. Why?
3
votes
2answers
4k views

Ultrasonic wave through air

I am not a physicist but I am extremely interested in this area. The simple version of my question is: "What is the maximum range of an ultrasonic wave traveling through air?" Now, I know it depends ...
2
votes
2answers
237 views

Is the wobbly rope depiction of a radio wave inherently wrong? And how do vectors of parallel waves align with each other?

I don't have a scientific education, yet I'm scientifically curious. Among other things, I'm struggling to understand the nature of electromagnetic waves. What I have recently realized is that the ...
2
votes
1answer
206 views

How can radiation be a transverse wave? Does light really resemble a rope? How can a 3D field be a medium for non-spatial 1D waves? Need mental model

I understand longitudinal waves. For example, I've got a clear mental modal of air waves: a slice of air becomes overcompressed, then the slice next to it becomes overcompressed and the first slice ...
2
votes
1answer
6k views

How to calculate the intensity of the interference of two waves in a given point? [closed]

There are two different point sources which produce spherical waves with the same power, amplitude, ω, wavenumber and phase. I can calculate the intensity of each wave in a point: $$ I_1 = P / (4 ...
2
votes
1answer
16k 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

Questions regarding standing waves

I have two questions regarding mechanical waves. 1) We know that standing waves are created when any wave traveling along the medium will reflect back when they reach the end. But in an open organ ...
0
votes
3answers
255 views

If a tree falls in the forest [closed]

The question of whether or not a tree that falls in the forest makes a sound - if there is nothing or no one around to hear it - comes up frequently at my house. So, my question is: is there any way ...
9
votes
3answers
419 views

Why do rain waves form and what is their connection to the texture of the surface they're on?

When it rains and water flows down an inclined street, ripples may form that are carried along with the current. Here's a picture with an example of what I'm talking about I'd like to know what the ...
9
votes
3answers
898 views

Boundary layer theory in fluids learning resources

I'm trying to understand boundary layer theory in fluids. All I've found are dimensional arguments, order of magnitude arguments, etc... What I'm looking for is more mathematically sound arguments. ...
8
votes
5answers
4k views

Are water waves (i.e. on the surface of the ocean) longitudinal or transverse?

I'm convinced that water waves for example: are a combination of longitudinal and transverse. Any references or proofs of this or otherwise?
5
votes
2answers
2k 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
votes
2answers
462 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
4k views

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 ...
2
votes
3answers
2k views

How could electromagnetic waves propagate through space although they have no electrons?

How could electric fields in these waves propagate through space although in space there's no electrons for the electric field to be formed? is there another type of charged particles that carry the ...
2
votes
0answers
845 views

The physical meaning of electromagnetic wave

What, fundamentally, is an electromagnetic wave? As far as I know, all wave phenomena are derivations of an oscillating processes, e.g. particles vibrating in a medium. I can't imagine a wave process ...
1
vote
1answer
41 views

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 ...
1
vote
1answer
122 views

Nonlinear Dirac's Equation?

Are there any nonlinear variations of Dirac's Equation analogous to the Nonlinear Schrodinger Equation, that have been studied and published in any mainstream journals or books? Perhaps such a ...
1
vote
2answers
2k 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.
0
votes
1answer
81 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
1k views

Does wave interference happen only to same frequency waves?

As the title says, from books and results from internet, I find that examples of wave interference always have the same frequency, only different in phase constant. So, I'd like to know if wave ...
0
votes
1answer
250 views

Amplitude and phase in vector wave field

Is it possible to make some separation of amplitudes and phase for a general vector-wave field? For example, like a paraxial approximation of a complex scalar field of the form $$\Phi(x,y,z) = ...
0
votes
2answers
2k views

Wavelength and resolution

I'm reading some texts that seam to assume knowledge of light that I'm not too familiar with. How does wavelength of light relate to the minimum distance span that can be observed (i.e. you cannot ...
0
votes
1answer
344 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 ...
-2
votes
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 ...
26
votes
8answers
10k views

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 ...
27
votes
9answers
18k 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 ...
64
votes
3answers
8k views

Why doesn't the motion of a car affect the frequency of radio stations?

When we go in a car and tune to an FM radio station, why doesn't our motion disturb the frequency? Like the Doppler effect?
42
votes
7answers
5k 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 ...
23
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
23
votes
4answers
2k views

Is the existence of electromagnetic standing waves dependent on the observers reference frame?

If I take two plane EM waves travelling in opposite direction e.g. $E = E_0 \sin(kx-\omega t)$ and $E=E_0 \sin (kx + \omega t)$, they sum to give a standing wave with a time-averaged Poynting vector ...
14
votes
2answers
2k views

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

The (one-dimensional) wave equation is the second-order linear partial differential equation $$\frac{\partial^2 f}{\partial x^2}=\frac{1}{v^2}\frac{\partial^2 f}{\partial t^2}\tag{second order PDE}$$ ...
20
votes
1answer
773 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 ...
16
votes
6answers
1k views

Physics of how the cochlea isolates frequencies along its length?

Can anyone explain the separation of frequencies along the basilar membrane of the cochlea please? (equations would be nice) I understand it being related to the resistance caused by fluid in the ...
22
votes
4answers
5k views

Why is the angle of the wake of a duck constant?

Why is the angle of a wake of a duck constant? And why are some conditions on the water depth necessary? I realize that this question turns up in google searches, but I did not see a good discussion. ...
7
votes
6answers
3k views

How do EM waves propagate?

I have read about this and what I surmise is that when charged particles such as electrons accelerate they produce time-varying electric fields. These E-fields produce H-fields and the process goes ...