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Physics -- Do the Wave

The easiest wave to visualize is a water wave. When you drop a pebble into a calm pool of water, ripples travel out from the point where the pebble entered the water. The disturbance travels out from the center of the pattern, but the water does not travel with the wave. Mechanical waves — such as water waves, waves on a rope, waves in a spring, and sound waves — have two general characteristics:

  • A disturbance is in some identifiable medium.
  • Energy is transmitted from place to place, but the medium does not travel between two places.

Important basic characteristics of waves are wavelength, amplitude, period, and frequency. Wavelength is the length of the repeating wave shape. Amplitude is the maximum displacement of the particles of the medium, which is determined by the energy of the wave. A period is the time for one wave to pass a given point. Period is measured in seconds. Frequency of the wave is the number of waves passing a given point in a unit of time.

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