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 to simulate a crashing wave? [closed]

I'd like to create a very rough animation of a wave crashing on a beach. I'm guessing it would have to be a particle simulator, where you code in the forces between the particles and then integrate ...
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251 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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398 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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Patterns in laminar flow of tap water

This is a simple experiment that anyone can do at home. Open your tap so that the water maintains a laminar flow, and the cross section of flow is considerably thin. Place your finger 3-4 cm below the ...
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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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195 views

How do the LASERs in LIGO realize that space has expanded as a gravitational wave passes by?

I read an article on LIGO, and I heard it mentioned that it is a nontrivial argument to say that the effect can be measured by interferometry. What happens to space as the wave passes? Does the light ...
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232 views

Explanation of the waves on the water planet in the movie Interstellar?

We will ignore some of the more obvious issues with the movie and assume all other things are consistent to have fun with some of these questions. Simple [hopefully] Pre-questions: 1) If the water ...
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448 views

The role of metric in the Wave Equation

The wave equation is often written in the form $$(\partial^2_t-\Delta)u=0,$$ involving the Laplace-Beltrami operator $\Delta$. However, the Laplace-Beltrami operator $\Delta$ is defined only in the ...
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How to reproduce highway vibration?

I would like to test my hardware under vibration that can appear on a highway gantry. If someone has a model of such vibration. i.e period and amplitude. In my lab I have a motor that can be ...
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Why are electromagnetic waves called waves even though they don't travel through a medium?

If waves are defined as the oscillation of a medium, why are electromagnetic waves called waves as they do not need a medium to travel through?
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Is light amplitude spacial?

In diagrams I often see light waves depicted as little sine waves that travel through space. And often when describing polarizers, the explainer will angle their hand to show the angle of ...
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212 views

Multiple channels of information in single electromagnetic wave?

I'm trying to understand how can multiple radio stations transmit information just by transmitting using different frequency. The way I understand it all those different frequency waves add up to a ...
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396 views

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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How to Make RF Waves Visible

I understand RF (Radio Frequency) Waves are electromagnetic waves and a mode of communication for wireless technologies, such as cordless phones, radar, ham radio, GPS, and television broadcasts. Most ...
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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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Galilean transformation of wave equation

I have this general wave equation: \begin{equation} \dfrac{\partial^2 \psi}{\partial x^2}+\dfrac{\partial^2 \psi}{\partial y^2}-\dfrac{1}{c^2}\dfrac{\partial^2 \psi}{\partial t^2}=0 \end{equation} ...
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Recently publicized experiment on destructive interference between two laser beams

Recently I've had several non-physicist friends ask me, independently of each other, about an experiment where two collinear laser beams destructively interfere along a certain length. Everybody wants ...
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598 views

What are the normal modes of a vertical rope?

Closely related to this question on traveling waves on a hanging rope, I would also like to know what the normal modes are on a rope that hangs vertically, fixed at both ends. Tension in the rope ...
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528 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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363 views

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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Is it possible to estimate the speed of wind by the sound emitted by a cable of an overhead power line?

I was near ($\approx40m$) an overhead power line and I heard a sound coming from the cables of the power line; I think the sound was made by the vibrations of the power cables due to the wind but I am ...
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3k views

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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375 views

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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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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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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How does the energy in a standing wave travel beyond a node?

In a standing wave, how does energy travel past a node? It should just get reflected. Assume the case of first overtone and you strike the string at a place. How will energy distribute itself? If it ...
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272 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 ...
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100 views

Can gravitational waves resonate?

Can gravitational waves resonate? - Perhaps by creating standing wave interference in a cavity? Could that feasibly happen either in nature or by engineering?
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307 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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995 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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318 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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Why do sound waves travel at the same speed moleculewise? (Same medium)

I don't understand what happens in reality (outside of wave theories). If I clap my hands I invest energy in the nearby air molecules, which move and transfer their energy to nearby molecules which ...
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Are two waves being in phase is the same as saying that the two waves are coherent?

If two waves are coherent, is it the same as them being in phase? Please correct if I'm wrong.
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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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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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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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474 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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Fractional harmonics in musical Instruments

I recently did some Fourier transforms on different audio files containing saxophone or trumpet (John Coltrane/Clifford Brown). I found that with the saxophone, the frequency spectrum occasionally ...
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234 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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304 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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116 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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8answers
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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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3answers
334 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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4answers
978 views

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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9answers
60k views

What is the meaning of phase difference?

What do you mean by phase of a wave? And phase difference? Waves have always confused me as it's too difficult to visualize them. I am no good at waves mechanics, so if anyone could explain in simpler ...
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576 views

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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476 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 ...