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Yes, it most certainly can. It's much easier to visualize if you consider a length of flexible steel or plastic. You can shake it a bit, then toss it in the air so it's not constrained, and it will (if properly initiated) vibrate at a resonant wavelength. I think the confusion most people will get from your question is that everyday string is "floppy," ...


A "standing wave" is not a real wave - it is simply our observing the superposition of two waves - one traveling to the left and one traveling to the right. If they have the same amplitude and propagate at the same velocity there will be stationary points on the string. This is true regardless of whether the ends of the string are "open" or "closed". ...

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