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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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 ...
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662 views

Diffracton at the edges of an opaque object?

To understand the phenomenon of diffraction as an interference effects of several dipole oscillators (like in case of several symmetrical, not sawtooth, scratches in a diffraction grating), we ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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595 views

Pendulum Wave Period

Recently I've seen various videos showing the pendulum wave effect. All of the videos which I have found have a pattern which repeats every $60\mathrm{s}$. I am trying to work out the relationship ...
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159 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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339 views

Does timbre consist in pitch and volume?

I read that the physical properties of a sound wave correspond to its audible qualities: pitch, volume, and timbre. However, an oscilloscope uses only two-dimensions to accurately depict the physical ...
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2answers
4k views

How can sound waves propagate through air?

We know that the sound waves propagate through air, and it can't travel through vacuum. so the thing that help it doing that is the air's molecules pressure. So my question how can that happens? I ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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Why do travelling waves continue after amplitude sum = 0?

My professor asked an interesting question at the end of the last class, but I can't figure out the answer. The question is this (recalled from memory): There are two travelling wave pulses moving in ...
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Do photons occupy space?

Total noob here. I realize that photons do not have a mass. However, they must somehow occupy space, as I've read that light waves can collide with one another. Do photons occupy space? and if so, ...
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841 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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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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Difference Between Fraunhofer and Fresnel Diffraction

What is the difference between Fraunhofer diffraction and Fresnel diffraction? I mean diffraction is just bending of light waves or waves in general around a point. So how can there be two types of ...
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965 views

Wave reflection and open end boundary condition intuition

I need to understand one seemingly simple thing in wave mechanics, so any help is much appreciated! When a pulse on a string travels to the right toward an open end(like a massless ring that is free ...
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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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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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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 ...
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How do electromagnetic waves travel in a vacuum?

This is perhaps a total newbie question, and I will try to formulate it the best I can, so here it goes. How does an electromagnetic wave travel through for example, the vacumm of space? I usually ...
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6answers
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What happens to waves when they hit smaller apertures than their wavelenghts?

I was wondering this for quite a long time now. Let's say you have a water wave (like ripples, not the ones you see during tsunamis) with wavelength 10 m. Imagine you put a boundary with an opening of ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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What should be the intuitive explanation of wave equation?

$$\dfrac {\partial^2 y}{{\partial x}^2} = \dfrac{1}{v^2} \dfrac{\partial^2 y}{{\partial t}^2}$$ is the wave equation in one dimension. But what should be the intuition behind it? That is, what meaning ...
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Why does a wave actually diffract?

I know that waves diffract around a slit and this is due to the Huygens-Fresnel principle. But I never understand this in an intuitive wave that why does a wave become a spherical wave front at the ...
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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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Question on open organ pipe

Although open organ pipe is open on both ends, how standing waves are produced in a open organ pipe. Can someone explain with more clarity ?
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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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Why is the wave equation so pervasive?

The homogenous wave equation can be expressed in covariant form as $$ \Box^2 \varphi = 0 $$ where $\Box^2$ is the D'Alembert operator and $\varphi$ is some physical field. The acoustic wave ...
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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 ...
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2answers
871 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
742 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 ...
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677 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 ...
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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?
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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 ...
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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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1answer
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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 ...
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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?
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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 ...
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2answers
351 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 ...
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1answer
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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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3answers
297 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 ...
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476 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 ...
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3answers
963 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. ...
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5answers
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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?
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2answers
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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?
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107 views

What boundary conditions in a wave simulation would avoid reflections?

In simulating an elastic medium as a series of mobile points connected by ideal springs, it's straightforward to model conditions corresponding to a fixed endpoint, which results in an incoming wave ...
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2answers
577 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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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 ...