A wave is any disturbance that transmits energy through matter or space Imagine that your family has just returned from a day at the beach. You had a lot of fun, but now you are hungry from playing in the ocean under the hot sun. You put some leftover pizza in the microwave for dinner, and you turn on the radio. Just then the phone rings. It’s your best friend calling to see if you have finished the science homework yet. With a partner, see if you can brainstorm all of the different waves present in this scenario There are at least FIVE different waves! Water waves in the ocean; microwaves inside the microwave oven; light waves from the sun; radio waves transmitted to the radio; and sound waves from the radio, telephone, and voices.
Energy can be carried through a wave, however, the material through which the wave travels does not move with the energy. Ex: Sound waves travel through air, but air does not travel with sound As a wave travels, it uses energy to do work on everything in its path. Ex: The waves in a pond do work on the water, and anything floating on the water’s surface, to make it move up and down.
Some waves transfer energy by the vibration of particles in a medium. A medium is a substance through which a wave can travel A medium can be a solid, a liquid, or a gas. Waves that require a medium are called mechanical waves Examples: Sound waves; ocean waves; waves on guitar and cello strings
Some waves can transfer energy without traveling through a medium Waves that do not require a medium are called electromagnetic waves Examples: Visible light; microwaves produced by microwave ovens; TV and radio signals; and X rays used by dentists and doctors Even though electromagnetic waves do not require a medium, they can still travel through substances such as air, water, and glass. However, they travel fastest through empty space.
Waves in which the particles vibrate with an up-and-down motion are called transverse waves Crests Troughs The highest point of a transverse wave is called a crest The lowest point of a transverse wave is called a trough
In a longitudinal wave the particles of the medium vibrate back and forth along the path that the wave travels A section of a longitudinal wave where the particles are crowded together is called a compression A section of a longitudinal wave where the particles are more spread out is called a rarefaction
The amplitude of a wave is the maximum distance the wave vibrates from its rest position. Larger Amplitude = More Energy A wavelength is the distance between any two adjacent crests/troughs or compressions/rarefactions in a series of waves Wavelength Amplitude Wavelength Transverse WaveLongitudinal Wave
The number of waves produced in a given amount of time is the frequency of a wave. Higher Frequency = More Energy Shorter Wavelength Longer Wavelength
The wave speed is the speed at which a wave travels The speed of a wave depends on the medium in which the wave travels. Waves travel fastest through solids because the particles in solids are close together. Waves travel slowest in gases because the particles in gases are so spread out. Wave Speed (v) can be calculated using wavelength ( ) and frequency (f) in the following equation: v = x f (wave speed = wavelength x frequency)