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 do mirrors work?

My physics professor explained to me that electromagnetic waves are consisted of two components - electric and magnetic - which cause each other. Which part of the mirror actually reflects the wave? ...
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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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Controllable faster-than-light phase velocity

This is not another question about faster-than-light travel or superluminal communication. I totally appreciate the speed limit capped by physical laws (or theories.) Just curious, since there is no ...
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265 views

Huygens' Principle and Ocean Waves

Ocean waves can travel in any direction, but waves breaking on the sea-shore are usually approximately parallel to the line of the beach. How can Huygens' principle explain this phenomenon? Does it ...
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655 views

How does an acoustic guitar amplify its sound?

An essential part of a guitar is its hollow body. Without it, the strings wouldn't be very loud; as far as I know, the purpose of the body is to set up some sort of resonance and make the sound ...
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202 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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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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625 views

What's the optimal shape for a continuous Galilean Cannon?

A Galilean Cannon is a toy similar to the famous basketball-and-tennis-ball demonstration. You take a tennis ball, balance it on top a basketball, and drop them both. The tennis ball will bounce up to ...
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211 views

Does a square wave “smooth out” in the air?

I understand that playing a square wave from speakers cannot produce a PERFECTLY sharp division between compression and rarefaction. But it's sharp enough to sound distinctly different from a sine ...
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272 views

How is it possible for an Ultrasound device to correctly interpret a negative density change in tissue?

I understand the principles of Ultrasound Imaging, and the mathematics behind sonar velocity, impedance, and reflection. I also understand that an Ultrasound device recieves an echo produced by ...
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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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675 views

If electrons behave as standing waves when they are bound to an atom then how do they carry charge?

Today in my physics lesson we learnt that the best way of describing the behaviour of an electron that is bound to an atom is to treat it as a standing wave. I understand that this is the ...
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247 views

“Book domino” propagation speed?

I was watching this video on the Guardian website. As it can be seen, the "wavefront" of the fallen books travel with a fairly constant speed, which I guess depends on the mass of the book $m$, on its ...
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419 views

Why does the echo for soundwaves hitting a vacuum come back out of phase? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Phase shift of 180 degrees on reflection from optically denser medium I've read in a physics book for musicians that, when a soundwave hits a near-solid object, it ...
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264 views

The Mysterious Reverb in a Jar of Hair Gel

I have a small jar filled with hair styling gel (or, as it calls itself: Ultra Gel-Wax). The jar is cylindrical(with the height being less than the width), has an unscreweable lid and is made of ...
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207 views

How does one explain this pattern generated by earthquake waving driving a pendulum?

How to explain this pattern generated by earthquake wave driving a pendulum? Specially, there are three groups of curves that look categorically different: 1) The group of curves outside the ...
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205 views

Skin depth of current density in magnetic conductor at boundary between two different materials

Imagine a magnetic conductor with a cylindrical cross section, surrounded by a coil with a time varying current of $$I = I_0\cdot \cos (2\pi f t)$$ The conductor is split into two parts, the first ...
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114 views

Critical bathymetric profile to maximize surge and minimize breaking?

Reading about storm surge, I found it fascinating that the gradual slope of the Gulf Coast of Florida resulted in a much higher storm surge but much lower energy release in breaking waves. Is there ...
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What makes laminar cascade break?

Near my house there is a mall that have a cascade, which has a pratically constant flow, and doesn't seem to have perturbations (at least near the edge where water falls), between its two levels. ...
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Relaxation time for deviations from spherical shape of a black hole's event horizon (and waves)

A different question about truly spherical objects in nature (Do spheres exist in nature?) made me think of a lecture I had been at where, as I recall, it was mentioned that the most perfectly ...
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Doppler's effect use

While i was in high-school i learn't the Doppler's Effect which if i remember correctly is: The Apparent change in the frequency of sound caused due the relative motion between the sound and the ...
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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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Optical explanation of images of stars?

Very often when viewing pictures of the cosmos taken by telescopes, one can observe that larger/brighter stars do not appear precisely as points/circles on the image. Indeed, the brighter the light ...
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What is the wave in an electron? [duplicate]

For Photons, their 'waves' are oscillating electromagnetic fields. From what I've heard, electrons are also some kind of wave. So what 'field' is exactly oscillating for electrons, which makes them a ...
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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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How does a speaker produce sound?

What I read is that a speaker produces sound by the movement of a coil attached to a cone which moves back and forth. So, If I try to move the coil by hand, would it produce sound? If not, why? or Why ...
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Why do we must initially assume that the wavefunction is complex?

The sound waves are real, and they can interfere, so corresponding apparat may be used in quantum mechanics. We also may use the time dependence in a form of orthogonal matrix multiplying the initial ...
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Why do we think of light as a wave?

I've read that light travels in a straight line and has a wavelength of 400nm to 700nm. But I don't understand why does it have a wavelength and what creates its wavelength? I agree with the concept ...
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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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How do we know that the Fourier transform of space is momentum?

How do we know that the Fourier transform of real space $x$ is the momentum $p$ space or for energy and time, receptively? What's the mathematical process and physical logic?
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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 ...
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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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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 ...
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Wave with mass transport?

I don't think this question has been asked on this forum before (at least I didn't find it). In the case of a tsunami, an earthquake generates a wave which will travel with the sea/ocean as the ...
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Does space have to be filled with charged particles to carry electromagnetic waves?

I'm a newbie here so have mercy. I'm studying electromagnetic waves. This is the propagation of energy via the vibration of charged particles, as I understand it. A charged particle could be like ...
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What happens to sound waves?

I apologize if this is a naive question, but I never really learned about this. I'm curious as to what happens to sound waves after they are "used"? For example, if I say something to you verbally, ...
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367 views

what determines the wavelength of waves on the open ocean?

Looking at the picture below, you can totally see that these are tiny boats. The water is practically washing over the hull of these boat models. But the water has boundaries that are very far ...
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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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Optimal slit width in Young's double slit experiment

I'm trying to do Young's double slit experiment at home. Note that I don't have a laser, only a torch. I could get a bulb or use a candle though, if it helps I built the slits by cutting into a ...
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Producing photons with same frequency, different amplitude wave [duplicate]

I don't understand how two photons of the same frequency can have different amplitudes, neither how to produce them. I know that classically the square of the amplitude is proportional to the energy, ...
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190 views

Resonance modes of a cubic box of water which we shake

I don't know hydrodynamics, but I wonder how one would compute resonance modes of a cubic box of water which we shake. I believe the waves would directly depend on the height of water and the width ...
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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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Meaning of negative frequency of sound wave

Suppose that Alice and Bob are both holding speakers emitting sound at a frequency $f$. Alice is stationary while Bob is moving towards Alice at twice the speed of sound. In the case of Alice, if I ...
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Matter waves - DeBroglie's relations

I am currently studying from Modern Physics for Scientists and Engineers by Taylor et al. They derive the DeBroglie relation $p=h/\lambda$ from setting mass $m=0$ in the energy-momentum relation ...
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What is a full cycle in damped oscillation?

Maybe it seems a dumb question, but I can't understand what the cycle in a damped oscillation is? Let's take an example: In harmonic motion, one cycle is the smallest distinguishable part of wave ...
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Frequency shift without affecting signal length

Non-physicist here. From what I've learned in university and what common sense says, a shift in frequency of a signal results in a change in its length in time. For example, if a sinusoid signal of ...
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Work Done by Vibrating String - Without Small-Amplitude Assumption

I'm trying to derive the equation for work done by a vibrating string, but I'm running into problems. The easiest way - the method used by the other question by this name - makes the approximation ...
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How does one determine whether an object will make an EM wave refract in a qualitative way?

for example, i have a vague notion that the actual answer is that the permittivity and permisivity are different in each different material, so all waves refract at every boundary, but we only call it ...
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What allows the Wave Disk Generator to be so efficient?

Researchers at Michigan State University recently invented the Wave Disk Generator that is supposed to get 60% fuel efficiency. What allows it to be so much more efficient than a traditional Internal ...
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Relationship between the continuity equation and the wave equation

What exactly is the relationship between the continuity equation and the wave equation? Suppose $J^\mu$ is a contravariant vector that satisfies the continuity equation $\partial_\mu J^\mu=0$. Let ...