Surface waves

Waves – the universe is made of fields of force. When a radio antenna makes a disturbance in the electric and magnetic fields, those disturbances travel outward like ripples on a pond. Waves are fundamental to the way the universe works.

Waves – behaviors (images) – sound waves, radio waves, light waves, water waves, … . Waves can be thought of as a regular and repeated disturbance of a medium (material) that subsequently carries energy from the point of disturbance across or through the medium. Most of us recognize the familiar pattern of crests and troughs that characterize many waves.

Waves (images) – Waves are characterized by repeated and periodic disturbances of the medium.

  • vibrations
  • sound and light waves – yellow – color of light waves that vibrate about half a million billion times a second. cello has as its most obvious characteristic a relatively low musical pitch – sound vibrations repeat at a rate of a hundred times a second.
  • wave motion
  • periodic waves
  • standing waves (images) – Most objects have a set of distinct frequencies at which they will vibrate. The individual frequencies within the set are known as harmonics. Each harmonic frequency is associated with a pattern of vibrations known as a standing wave pattern.
  • interference (images) – interference is the interaction between two light waves which meet up at the same location in space.
  • Polarized light (images) – light with a single plane of vibration. The partial polarization of light by our atmosphere causes pictures of the sky to appear washed out. Using a polarized filter for such pictures blocks this polarized light and brightens up the sky. Clouds stand out amidst the blueness of the sky.

What’s the problem?
Oscilloscopes are devices that visually display the periodic changes in electronic signals that are collected from instruments and other electronic equipment. The patterns observed on an oscilloscope screen often have features that repeat themselves in a periodic way.

That’s engineering

  • diffraction – the bending of a wave around an obstacle in its path. Rather than being stopped by the obstacle, a wave will bend around it and fill what would otherwise be a void in the region of space behind it.

Engineering ideas

  • waves, period, medium, frequency, amplitude, wavelength, diffraction, polarization, vibration, interference

Do it
Here are some challenges for you to work on…

  • Measure the Speed of Light – With Chocolate! (video 3:30) – ‘C’ is for chocolate! ‘c’ is also the symbol used for the speed of light. Defined as being 299,792,458 meters per second in vacuum, you can take a crack at measuring the ultimate speed using your microwave, a ruler and a bar of chocolate!

Learn more…

  • Waves
  • Waves
  • Introductory Physics – Fundamental Principles Waves, including geometrical optics Theory of relativity Relativistic matter waves and quantum mechanics Classical mechanics as the geometric optics limit of quantum mechanics Four Forces Gravity A treatment of electromagnetism which builds on relativity Atomic, nuclear, and particle physics Statistical mechanics and thermodynamics
  • Light and Matter – This is an introductory text intended for a one-year introductory course of the type typically taken by biology majors, or for AP Physics B. Algebra and trig are used, and there are optional calculus-based sections. Simple Nature, Conceptual Physics, Vibrations

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