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 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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140 views

Doppler effect and light

Approaching the speed of sound in an aircraft is relatively difficult, because the closer you get to Mach 1, the denser the pressure is around you (sound accumulates causing vibrations). Is there a ...
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321 views

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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427 views

Why doesn't amplitude affect the speed of sound?

I understand why amplitude doesn't affect the speed of the sound AFTER the 'leading compression'. The extra force provided on one stage of the cycle is countered on the other stage. But shouldn't the ...
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Numerical Solution of the Propagation-Dispersion equation

I have asked this question on Computational Science and also on Mathoverflow, but no satisfactory answers so far. I thought maybe the physics community could shed some insight on the issue. I am ...
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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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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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199 views

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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109 views

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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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's a good textbook to learn about waves and oscillations?

I'm taking a course on waves and oscillations using Crawford from the Berkeley series (out of print excluding international copies), and would like to know if anyone has any suggestions for a better ...
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Does the absence of a sound particle indicate that there are no photons?

Sound is usually referred to as just "sound waves" - we do not talk about a "sound particle" and only as a wave or "matter wave." Could something similar apply to light i.e. that there really is no ...
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438 views

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 ...
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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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Speed of a particle in quantum mechanics: phase velocity vs. group velocity

Given that one usually defines two different velocities for a wave, these being the phase velocity and the group velocity, I was asking their meaning for the associated particle in quantum mechanics. ...
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Why are two voices singing the same note louder than one?

Let's say for example: Two people sing the same note (frequency) and volume (amplitude) together. Why is it that the two persons sound louder than they would ...
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995 views

FFT distortion, harmonics (singing wine glass)

I'm doing a school assignment on Singing Wine glasses (you rub the rim of the wine glass with a wet finger and it produces a pure tone). I have recorded $30\,\text{ms}$ of the "singing" at a sampling ...
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317 views

Do non-metal objects reduce the signal strength of a computer wireless network device?

Would an object like a wooden bed interfere or block the signal coming from a 802.11 wireless router?
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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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Why can we leave off half of the general solution?

In these pdf notes, it says at the bottom of the first page and beginning of the second: [...] whose solution is: $$\Psi(\theta) = c_1 e^{i\omega\theta} + c_2 e^{-i\omega\theta}$$ Since we are ...
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233 views

Can a wave possess spin?

Since a matter wave is associated with a particle in quantum mechanics, does the wave spins? I mean, can we visualize the spinning of wave or is it possible that the wave spins?
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462 views

Do mechanical waves travel in straight lines?

Electromagnetic waves travel in straight lines but do all waves travel in straight lines?
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Differences of waves in water and air

When one drops a pebble in a body of water, one can observe multiple waves emanating from the point the pebble came in contact with water. Be it because the water "jumps" up and comes back down, ...
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Why do longitudinal waves travel faster than transverse waves?

I have learned that if a medium can transmit longitudinal waves and transverse waves, then the longitudinal wave will travel faster. Why is this the case?
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Speed of sound in an inifinitely dense medium

Curious thought i just had. The speed of sound is affected by a few factors, but the density plays a large role. As density increases, does this mean that sound could approach the speed of light? If ...
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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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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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How does a fixed amount of transmitted radio energy supply an unknown number of destinations?

I did some maths and physics up to the age of 18, and hold an amateur radio licence. This thing has puzzled me for a while - does reception of an electromagnetic wave imply an interaction with the ...
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How to “derive” the wave equation without refering to strings?

The wave equation in $3$ dimensions is simply: $$\nabla^2\psi = \dfrac{1}{v^2} \dfrac{\partial^2}{\partial t^2}\psi,$$ and the intuition behind this is that at each point of space with coordinates ...
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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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Confused over complex representation of the wave

My quantum mechanics textbook says that the following is a representation of a wave traveling in the +$x$ direction:$$\Psi(x,t)=Ae^{i\left(kx-\omega t\right)}\tag1$$ I'm having trouble visualizing ...
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62 views

What, if anything, makes primary colours distinct?

I've recently become interested in the primary colours; red, green and blue. In my capacity as a computer programmer I'm well aware of how these colours are used practically, and of how varying ...
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356 views

Double-Slit Experiment Separation Between Fringes

I was taught in class that the double slit diffraction pattern would always have bright fringes of same length. We derived the formula: $y=m(\lambda)(L)/d$, which also shows this equal distance. I ...
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271 views

Normal modes of a flexible rod clamped at only one point

I am interested in the vibrations of a thin, flexible rod that would only be clamped at one point, properly I'd like to calculate its eigenvalue. But the way I learned it in wave mechanics doesn't ...
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Can wind blowing on smooth water create speckle interference patterns?

On a calm smooth lake, or even a large rain puddle, I've seen transient rough patches on the surface suddenly appear and disappear, and sometimes move across the water some distance before ...
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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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Why is there a 90˚ phase angle between particle velocity and sound pressure in spherical waves?

My text says that in a plane sound wave (or in the far field), particle velocity and pressure is in phase. As we move closer to the sound source (to near field and more spherical waves), the phase ...
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167 views

Wave equation for sound waves and moving source

Is there a way to take a moving source already into account when one derives the wave equation for sound waves and derive from that using only math the Doppler effect for moving sources?
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407 views

What is the dominant cause for ocean waves at a beach?

What is the dominant cause for ocean waves at a beach? Are they the result of wind/pressure difference? If so, the waves do seem to exist in similar intensity even during relative quiet times of the ...
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Refraction, diffraction or reflection of human voice

Why is possible to hear in an open space someone's voice even if he's not facing me? Is it because of refraction, diffraction or reflection of the sound wave?
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Can a standing wave form on a string with both end open

I am fascinated with an idea of an standing wave forming on a string with both end open. If we assume two identical waves coming in of an infinitely long string then for a short period of time, they ...
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47 views

Interference and windows

The other day i was learning about interference patterns with the effect of a bubble making a rainbow on the surface. I learned that the reflections from both sides of the soap can interfere ...
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288 views

Longitudinal Waves - how velocity varies with density

The formula for finding the velocity of a longitudinal wave, such as a sound wave, is: $$v = \sqrt{\frac{E}{\rho}}$$ Where $v$ represents the velocity, $E$ represents the elasticity of the medium, and ...
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Sea surfer position displacement

Waves are means by which the energy propagates through a medium (e.g., sea water). This is not associated with a net movement of water in the direction of wave propagation. If this is the case, then ...
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Relationship between slit size and wavelength in diffraction

Almost in every book on physics we can find a statement like "diffraction gets stronger when the size of the slit is comparable to the wavelength". Let's say we have a wall in a bathtub with a slit in ...
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Do Electromagnetic Waves really propagate through continuous Induction?

I've often seen it said that in an Electromagnetic Wave the changing Electric Field component creates the Magnetic Field Component and the changing Magnetic Field Component in turn creates an Electric ...
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674 views

Does thin film interference (anti-reflective coating) let more light through?

The theory of an anti-reflective coating is that the reflected light off the coating and the reflected light off the substrate is 180 degrees out of phase, causing destructive interference and ...
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How is a one position shift of an interferometer fringe pattern defined?

When Michelson and Morley conducted their 1887 interferometer experiment, they were expecting a fringe pattern shift of 0.4 (see the chart at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michelson-Morley_experiment). ...