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Transverse wave

We explain what transverse waves are, their characteristics and several examples with detailed definition.. transverse wave physics definition

Definition of transverse wave

In the field of physics , a wave is a periodic movement whose propagation can occur in a vacuum or in a physical medium. Transversal , on the other hand, is an adjective that refers to something that moves away from the straight direction, that crosses perpendicularly or that is crossed.

transverse wave , in this framework, is one that presents a vector magnitude with oscillations in a perpendicular direction with respect to the direction of propagation . This characteristic allows them to be differentiated from longitudinal waves , which oscillate in the same direction as the displacement of the wave. transverse wave physics definition

transverse wave
transverse wave

To understand the notion of transverse wave, it is essential to remember that the propagation of waves in a medium is linked to the vibration they cause in the particles of the medium in question. When the direction of propagation is perpendicular to the direction in which these particles vibrate, it is a transverse wave. On the contrary, if the direction of propagation is the same as the direction in which the vibration of the particles of the medium occurs, the wave is longitudinal. transverse wave physics definition

The electromagnetic waves , for example, are transverse waves. Like the waves that are generated on the surface of the water if we throw a blunt object, to mention another case.

Suppose we throw a stone into a lake and it falls near where a buoy floats . The direction of the vibration that occurs on the surface is perpendicular to the direction of the wave’s displacement. The buoy, meanwhile, rises and falls according to the arrival of the wave fronts, which advance horizontally. The action ultimately led to the appearance of transverse waves.

There is a concept that is generally known as transverse waves in a string and it focuses precisely on the wave motion that propagates in a string to which it is subjected to tension. One of the objectives that arise in problems of this type, in the field of physics, is to find out the speed at which waves propagate, and for that it is necessary to find the appropriate formula. transverse wave physics definition

To explain this topic we will see an example below in which we will stop at each of the variables and finally arrive at the equation that allows us to calculate the speed of propagation of transverse waves in a string. Take for example a rope with a certain voltage, which denote by the variable T . When it is in equilibrium, we can say that the line it forms is straight . transverse wave physics definition

If, on the other hand, we displace an element with a length dx from a point from which we know its position on the X axis and we do so by a magnitude ψ (the twenty-third Greek letter, psi ) taking its equilibrium position as a reference. To calculate the acceleration of the element we must apply Newton’s second law , also known as the fundamental law of dynamics : transverse wave physics definition

“The movement changes directly proportionally to the force that is printed and it does so according to the straight line on which it is printed . transverse wave physics definition

The tension is equal to the force that the left side of the string exerts on the same side of the element, and at this point the direction is tangent to the string, giving rise to an angle that we call α . The same can be said of the right side, with the difference that the angle formed is called α ‘ . Since the element moves vertically, the equation we need to solve the problem is the following: velocity = √tension / linear density.

What are transverse waves?

The transverse waves are those in which the oscillation occurs in a direction perpendicular to the direction of wave propagation. In contrast, longitudinal waves are waves in which the displacement through the medium occurs in the same direction as the displacement of the wave. transverse wave physics definition

It should be remembered that waves propagate through a medium by virtue of the vibration they cause in the particles of said medium. So, the direction of propagation of a wave can be parallel or perpendicular to the direction in which the particles vibrate. For this reason, the distinction between transverse and longitudinal waves is made. transverse wave physics definition

The most typical example of a transverse wave is the circular waves that propagate across the surface of the water when a stone is thrown. Electromagnetic waves like light are also transverse waves. As for electromagnetic waves, it is the particular case that there is no vibration of particles as there is in other waves. transverse wave physics definition

Even so, they are transverse waves because the electric and magnetic fields associated with these waves are perpendicular to the direction of propagation of the wave. Other examples of shear waves are waves that are transmitted along a string and S waves or secondary seismic waves.

Characteristics of shear waves

Differences between transverse waves and longitudinal waves
Differences between transverse waves and longitudinal waves

The waves, whether they are transverse or longitudinal, have a series of characteristics that determine them. In general, the most important characteristics of a wave are as follows:

Wave amplitude (A) transverse wave physics definition

It is defined as the distance between the farthest point of a wave and its equilibrium point. Since it is a length, it is measured in units of length (usually measured in meters).

Wavelength (λ) transverse wave physics definition

It is defined as the distance (usually measured in meters) traveled by a disturbance in a given time interval.

This distance is measured, for example, between two successive peaks (the peaks are the farthest point from the equilibrium position at the top of the wave), or also between two valleys (the farthest point from the equilibrium position on the waveform). bottom of the wave) successive. transverse wave physics definition

However, you can actually measure between any two successive points on the wave that are in the same phase.

Period (T) transverse wave physics definition

It is defined as the time (usually measured in seconds) it takes for a wave to go through a complete cycle or oscillation. It can also be defined as the time a wave takes to travel a distance equivalent to its wavelength. transverse wave physics definition

Frequency (f) transverse wave physics definition

It is defined as the number of oscillations that occur in a unit of time, usually one second. Thus, when time is measured in seconds (s), frequency is measured in Hertz (Hz). The frequency is normally calculated from the period using the following formula:

f = 1 / T

Wave propagation velocity (v)

It is the speed at which the wave (the energy of the wave) propagates through a medium. It is usually measured in meters per second (m / s). For example, electromagnetic waves travel at the speed of light. transverse wave physics definition

Velocity of propagation can be calculated from wavelength and period or frequency. transverse wave physics definitiontransverse wave physics definition

V = λ / T = λ f

Or simply dividing the distance traveled by the wave in a certain time:

v = s / t

Examples of transverse wave

Electromagnetic waves

Electromagnetic wave
Electromagnetic wave

Electromagnetic waves are the most important case of shear waves. A particular characteristic of electromagnetic radiation is that, contrary to mechanical waves that require a medium to propagate through, they do not require a medium to propagate and can do so in a vacuum. transverse wave physics definition

This is not to say that there are no electromagnetic waves traveling through a mechanical (physical) medium. Some transverse waves are mechanical waves, since they require a physical medium for their propagation. These transverse mechanical waves are called T waves or shear waves.

Furthermore, electromagnetic waves propagate at the speed of light, which in the case of a vacuum is of the order of 3 ∙ 10 8 m / s. transverse wave physics definition

An example of an electromagnetic wave is visible light, which is electromagnetic radiation whose wavelengths are between 400 and 700 nm. transverse wave physics definition

Transverse waves in the water

Transverse waves in the water
Ripples in the water

A very typical and very graphic case of a transverse wave is the one that occurs when a stone (or any other object) is thrown into the water. When this happens, circular waves are produced that propagate from the place where the stone has hit the water (or the focus of the wave).transverse wave physics definition

The observation of these waves allows us to appreciate how the direction of the vibration that takes place in the water is perpendicular to the direction of movement of the wave.

This is best seen if a buoy is placed near the point of impact. The buoy rises and falls vertically as the wave fronts arrive, which move horizontally. transverse wave physics definition

More complicated is the movement of the waves in the ocean. Its movement involves not only the study of transverse waves, but also the circulation of water currents when the waves pass. Therefore, the actual movement of water in the seas and oceans cannot be reduced solely to a simple harmonic movement.

Wave on a rope transverse wave physics definition

Another common case of a transverse wave is the displacement of a vibration by a string.

For these waves, the speed at which the wave travels down the stretched string is determined by the tension in the string and the mass per unit length of the string. Thus, the speed of the wave is calculated from the following expression:

V = (T / m / L) 1/2

In this equation T is the tension of the string, m its mass, and L the length of the string

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