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.

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

3
votes
2answers
842 views

coherence length

Suppose i have two waves emanating from a point source. The waves start out completely in phase. Is the coherence length consistently defined as the length at which these two waves achieve a phase ...
3
votes
2answers
6k views

How to get “complex exponential” form of wave equation out of “sinusoidal form”?

I am a novice on QM and until now i have allways been using sinusoidal form of wave equation: $$A = A_0 \sin(kx - \omega t)$$ Well in QM everyone uses complex exponential form of wave equation: $$A ...
3
votes
1answer
838 views

Simple Quantum Mechanics question about the Free particle, (part1)

I am reading Introduction to Quantum Mechanics by David Griffiths and I am in Ch2 page 59. He starts out writing the time dependent Schrödinger equation and the solution for $\psi(x,t)$ for the free ...
3
votes
3answers
159 views

A misunderstanding regarding infinite square well

Here is a picture of the energy states of infinite potential well. We can see That the first level have a half wavelength which fittes with a full wave of the second level. $$\frac{ \lambda _{1} ...
3
votes
2answers
423 views

The wave equation in general relativity, special relativity, and Cartesian coordinates

The relativistic wave equation is $$\square\varphi=\rho$$ where $\varphi$ is the field, $\rho$ is the source, and $\square$ is the D'Alembert operator, defined by ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

how to add two plane waves if they are propagating in different direction?

In the undergraduate course about the wave, there stated for two harmonic waves propagating in opposite direction, then the resulting wave will be a standing wave. In math, it is like $$y_1 = ...
3
votes
3answers
601 views

waves on water generated by a falling object

Let an object of mass $m$ and volume $v$ be dropped in water from height $h$, and $a$ be the amplitude of the wave generated. What is the relation between $a$ and $h$. How many waves are generated? ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

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 ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

Spherical wave as sum of plane waves

How can we do this computation? $\iiint_{R^3} \frac{e^{ik'r}}{r} e^{ik_1x+k_2y+k_3z}dx dy dz$ where $r=\sqrt{x^2+y^2+z^2}$ ? I think we must use distributions... Physically, it's equivalent to ...
3
votes
3answers
176 views

When polarized light hits a polarizer, what happens to the polarization which is not transmitted?

It is typically said that in polarization of light only those waves can pass through a polaroid which has a plane of vibration parallel to the axis of polaroid. My question is: what happens to the ...
3
votes
2answers
137 views

Third order optical mixing

It's pretty straight-forward to visualise second-order non-linear optical mixing processes in which two waves of frequencies $\omega_{1}$ and $\omega_{2}$ mix up to generate new waves of different ...
3
votes
2answers
218 views

“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 ...
3
votes
1answer
308 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
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. ...
3
votes
3answers
278 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
102 views

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 ...
3
votes
3answers
486 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, ...
3
votes
1answer
289 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
176 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
110 views

Why is there a negative sign in front of the optical wave?

In undergrad I lost (a lot) of marks in my optics class for writing: $$A(t) = \exp(i(\omega t + \phi))$$ Instead of: $$A(t) = \exp(i(-\omega t + \phi))$$ In a derivation where I must have needed ...
3
votes
1answer
146 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
852 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
528 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
201 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views

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 ...
3
votes
1answer
148 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
118 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
138 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
80 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
836 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?
3
votes
2answers
1k views

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 ...
3
votes
1answer
256 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
175 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
232 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
129 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
147 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
833 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. ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

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 ...
3
votes
2answers
363 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

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 ...
3
votes
2answers
729 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
193 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
245 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
87 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
157 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
48 views

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.
3
votes
1answer
528 views

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 $g(x-y)$: ...
3
votes
3answers
281 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
274 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 ...