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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“Complex Variables Method” in Diff. Eq. - Justification and physical meaning?

A common method of simplifying calculations that involve differential equations - particularly involving oscillation - is to replace $\cos(\theta)$ with $e^{i \omega t}$, evaluate, and then take the ...
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297 views

Does $\lambda\nu = c$ hold for all the waves in the universe?

Are all waves in the universe the same as electromagnetic waves? Basically, my question arises from an equation I found in my chemistry textbook: $$\lambda \nu ~=~ c.$$ This states that the ...
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276 views

Knowing when wavefunction collapses

So I learned that after a measurement of, lets say the position of the wavefunction of a particle is made, if another measurement of the position of the particle is made right away, you should get the ...
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Unpolarized Light

Suppose I had a ray of unpolarized light, and I was sitting inside the beam and looking at the electric fields oscillating, then , if I am looking at a point how would the oscillations look like? I ...
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374 views

Calculating the mass of a wave of water

I am assuming it is possible to calculate the mass of water if the volume is known. My assumption is that doing this for stagnant water, in a container perhaps, is easy. However I want calculate, ...
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284 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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158 views

physical difference between A and B

We all know that when we say A it sounds different than when we say B. I was wondering what exactly can be the difference between saying A and B in terms of physics. I first thought that it may due ...
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3k views

The energy of an electromagnetic wave

The intensity of an electromagnetic wave is only related to its amplitude $E^2$ and not its frequency. A photon has the same wavelength as the wave that's carrying it, and its energy is $h f$. So ...
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4k views

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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127 views

Why is the water on one side of a bridge choppy?

My daily commute take me across the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge on Lake Washington. I have noticed on several occasions that the water on the southern side of the bridge will be quite choppy ...
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738 views

If the k of a wave is negative, is the wavelength negative too?

My friend went to an interview for a reputed scholarship program and was asked this question. A wave has an equation $a\sin(\omega t-kx)$. Sometimes k surely can become -ve. We know that ...
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450 views

How far do air particles move when a sound wave passes through them?

How far do air particles move when a sound wave passes through them? I know that they don't actually travel, the question is how far do they oscillate or what is the physical amplitude of the ...
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192 views

Do electromagnetic waves have endpoints?

When learning about electromagnetic waves at school we never talked about any endpoints as we did with standing waves, so I assumed that light has an endless length, but that doesn't make sense. So my ...
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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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147 views

What is it that undulates in a particle?

When there is a wave, something is undulating. In the example of a rope, the rope is what undulates. In the case of a ripple on a pond, the water is undulating, and when a sound wave propagates, the ...
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44 views

Young's double slit experiment and intensity

I want to ask a question about double slit interference and the pattern that it produces on a screen (for example in Young's Experiment with a laser beam). I understand the reason that you see a ...
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106 views

Waves and Newton's Third Law

I'm a really newbie in Physics trying to understand a bit about waves. Firstly, i'm using the Wikipedia's definition of wave , that is, as energy traveling through a medium/space without ...
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78 views

Quantum Wavefunctions Without Space

A handful of physicists have a rather peculiar definition of 'nothing' in terms of cosmology. Their claim is that the Universe, assuming it has 0 total energy, could have arisen from nothing but ...
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640 views

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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How is the width of a slit related to the intensity of light passing through it?

Here's a question I got in my final exam this morning. "If in a Young's double slit experiment setup, the ratio of intensity of the bright spot to the dark spot is 25:9, what is the ratio of the width ...
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213 views

Can atmospheric pressure literally push electromagnetic waves?

I work for an IT company and some time ago we had an issue with our wireless internet. We are 5 miles away from the ISP's antenna. Our Sys Admin expressed the view that the electromagnetic waves are ...
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160 views

A theory about a travelling wave due to a vibrating rope seems to be contradictory, please spot what is wrong?

Consider a travelling wave produced by vibrating one end of a rope while the other end is made to freely move along a vertical line. Mathematically, the equation of the traveling wave that also ...
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212 views

Why does a light wave invert at a boundary with greater index of refraction?

Is there a reason why a EM wave reflects invertedly when it meets a boundary point with a greater index of refraction. In the case of ropes, if remember correctly, the reason why it inverts is to ...
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118 views

Is it better to call the doppler effect a change in wavelength or frequency?

Why is it preferable to say that the doppler effect causes a shift in frequency rather than a shift in wavelength? I often read on websites that they define the doppler effect as a change in ...
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142 views

Boundary conditions on wave equation

I am having trouble understanding the boundary conditions. From the solutions, the first is that $D_1(0, t) = D_2(0, t)$ because the rope can't break at the junction. The second is that ...
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707 views

Particles vs Waves

As I remember long ago, in my physics classes, I always had a great trouble understanding the concept of waves. Our professor used to explain, as if everything in this world is made up of waves. ...
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Energy in an EM wave should depend on frequency

I just finished reading Feynman's Lectures on Physics vol.I, §34-9: "The momentum of light". The author explains that there is a relation between the wave 4-vector $k^{\mu}$ and the energy-momentum ...
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354 views

Waveguide and ethernet

I am having a doubt about waveguides and the traditional Ethernet cable. The newest Ethernet i.e. the 10Gbps Ethernet has an astounding speed of 10Gbps. Which consists of 4 lanes in Cu as physical ...
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Light waves and Schrödinger probability waves

Ok, bearing in mind that I only have a brief understanding of quantum mechanics (no formal education, only from reading about concepts in books), so I could be way off here, I have a question ...
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703 views

A basic question on the derivation of the wave equation

Today I saw the derivation of the wave equation in class, and I did not understand the following step. We are modeling a uniform-density string as being made up of tiny masses spaced a small amount ...
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177 views

Huygen's principle in curved spacetimes

Does Huygen's principle hold in even dimensional (2m+1,1) curved spacetimes, or are there certain necessary conditions for it to hold? In other words, if I have Cauchy data for a field satisfying the ...
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204 views

Plane wave complex notation

As far as I know, the function: $$ \vec{E}(\vec{r},t)=\vec{E_0}\cdot e^{i(\vec{k}\cdot \vec{r}-\omega t)} \hspace{2cm}(1) $$ is a mathematical solution of the wave equation: $$ \nabla^2 ...
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79 views

Where can I learn the meaning of variables in a formula?

I am in a low level physics class that is taught in high school. We were given a couple formulas as seen on the board, but I don't know what the variables stand for (their names), and what units ...
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141 views

Why do tunneling photons outrace their non tunneling counterparts in vacuum?

If we describe a photons with a wave packet, moving towards a potential barrier and E smaller than V, there is a finite chance that it will tunnel to the other side. In this process it is likely that ...
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Why a minus in the equation of a paraxial plane wave?

paraxial plane wave = $\exp{(-jkz)}$ for waves propagating to the right I can't figure out why it's not $\exp{(+jkz)}$. Any help would be greatly appreciated, thank you.
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Derivation of Green's Function for Wave Equation

In the textbook Modern Methods in Analytical Acoustics (Crighton-1992, Amazon link to 2013 edition) the following relates the 3D Green's function in the time-domain to the frequency domain $g(x-y)$: ...
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230 views

The physics of sound boards

As a kid I was bemused at why soundboards worked. A small sound could be demonstrably amplified simply by attaching the source to a surface that is rigid and not too thick. How could the volume ...
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244 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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136 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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101 views

References on wave solutions in continuum mechanics [closed]

I am interested in literature on known wave solutions in continnum mechanics, precisely the following mechanical equation: $$\rho\partial_t^2u_i = C_{ijkl}\nabla_j\nabla_ku_{l}$$ My interest is spread ...
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299 views

Sound Wave Propagation: Why HF are more specular while LF are more omni

The propagation of high frequencies sound waves is more directional (specular), and they don't diffract as much as low frequencies. Low-frequencies diffract and thus propagate in a more omni-spherical ...
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299 views

Earthquake as a transverse wave

I have a very simple mental picture that earthquake waves travel like shear (transverse) waves through the earth. a. Does the speed of this wave give any valuable information about the mechanical ...
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why is mechanical waves faster in denser medium while EM waves slower?

Why is it that mechanical waves/longitudinal waves/sound travel faster in a denser/stiffer medium as in steel compared to say air, while EM waves/trasverse waves/light travels slower in a (optically) ...
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Are standing waves in water exact sine waves?

In many physics demonstrations waves in water are used to illustrate principles of standing waves and wave propagation. After such demonstrations, classes tend to move on to basic problems ...
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91 views

Water Waves in the Wake of a Boat

As a boy I noticed that the waves from the wake of my model boat would fan out. If I looked at the end furthest from the boat the front had turned so that it was almost running in the same direction ...
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99 views

How to create a barrier for sound waves?

Is there a way to create a barrier so that sound waves cannot pass through? Does laser light have this ability to act as a barrier or bounce sound waves back? This came to my mind when I was ...
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76 views

Negative frequency contributions for very short pulses?

I am wondering if very short optical light pulses can have a Gaussian envelope? When I describe the pulse shape with a Gaussian than the frequency distribution has also a Gaussian shape. But if the ...
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454 views

Physical meaning of imaginary part of Electric field?

As far as I know (or I thought I knew), if we have an electric field $$\mathbf{E}=\mathbf{E_0}\cos(\omega t - kx),$$ we can define it as the real part of $$\mathbf{E}=Re(\mathbf{E_0}e^{i(\omega t - ...
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87 views

What can make signal triangulation tricky?

Usually, when you're trying to find a source of whatever signal, you move around the source and then calculate the position using triangulation. I'm specifically talking about low frequency signals, ...
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108 views

Heat diffusion: evanescent waves?

It has been recently pointed out to me that the solution of the heat equation in a semi-infinite material with an oscillating boundary condition at the surface is not an evanescent wave. The argument ...