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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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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258 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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Phase and Group Velocity of Electromagnetic Waves

Moving charges produce oscillating electric and magnetic fields -we have an electromagnetic wave. In terms of moving charges or at the level of charges, what is phase velocity and group velocity of ...
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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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637 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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222 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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397 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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1answer
228 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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205 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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187 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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208 views

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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113 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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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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269 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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869 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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443 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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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 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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179 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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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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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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190 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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219 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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246 views

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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210 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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392 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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323 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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188 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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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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136 views

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 ...
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Hankel function in terms of planewaves [closed]

It is well know that planewaves are a complete basis for solutions to the wave equation. Let us assume a 2D space, and at fixed temporal frequency, the equation reduces to the Helmholtz equation. In ...
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4answers
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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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How can a sine wave represent a longitudinal wave?

I envision a longitudinal wave as a series of vertical lines like that drawn on the board in an introductory physics class. This image contains no angles. Sound is a longitudinal wave. Some ...
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Does a finite wave necessarily have to be non-monochromatic in reality?

Does a finite wave necessarily have to be non-monochromatic in reality, or is that implication just a result of the mathematical analysis? I always wonder at these sort of things that come out of a ...
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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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305 views

What is the meaning of “CW” in LASER?

I am reading a user's manual, and the word appears here. At first, I think "CW" means "center wave". But later, I find that the meaning of "CW" is "continuous wave". It makes me confused. ...
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What makes waves propagate?

Why do electromagnetic waves propagate? I have searched a lot about EM waves, but I am still unable to understand what is driving them. Could you explain?
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Reflected and refracted light have same frequency as that of the incident light frequency. Why?

My text book says- When a monochromatic light is incident on a surface separating two media, the refracted and reflected light both have the same frequency as the incident frequency. Can anyone ...