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# Waves: Different Types, Parts, and Examples

Aug 3, 2023

#### Introduction:

• A wave is a disturbance that carries energy through matter or space.
• Waves that transmit energy are of different types. Some waves we can see, and some we cannot. We can’t see electromagnetic waves and sound waves.
• Electromagnetic waves (light waves) are non-mechanical waves; they don’t require any medium to travel. They can even travel through a vacuum.
• Waves on the water’s surface, the waves that travel down a rope or a slinky, and sound waves are mechanical waves. Mechanical waves require a medium such as water, air, rope, or a slinky to travel.

We can’t directly observe many waves like light waves and sound waves. The mechanical waves on a rope, waves on the surface of the water, and a slinky are visible to us. So, these mechanical waves can serve as a model for understanding the wave phenomenon.

## Types of Waves:

Fig:1 Types of waves

### Transverse Waves:

In the figure, we see a single disturbance created on a rope. A single disturbance or a bump is called a wave pulse that travels through the medium.

Fig-2: Transverse waves on a rope

Here, we notice that the rope is disturbed in the vertical direction, but the pulse travels horizontally. A wave with this type of motion is called a transverse wave.

A transverse wave is one in which the vibrations are perpendicular to the direction of the wave’s motion.

Example: Waves generated on a rope or a string.

Fig-3: Transverse waves on a rope or a string

In transverse waves, the particles of the medium move up and down while the energy and waves move forward.

The wave has the highest point called the crest, and the lowest point called the trough.

Fig-4: Terms related to transverse waves

#### Examples of Transverse Waves Are:

• The waves on the surface of the water
• The waves on a slinky
• The waves on the strings of a guitar

### Longitudinal Waves:

In the figure, we see a single disturbance created on a slinky by squeezing together several turns and then suddenly releasing it. A wave pulse of closely spaced turns will move away in both directions through the medium.

Fig-5: Longitudinal waves on a slinky-1

Here, we notice that the slinky is disturbed in the same or parallel to the direction of the waves’ motion. A wave with this type of motion is called a longitudinal wave.

A longitudinal wave is one in which the vibrations are parallel to the direction of the wave’s motion.

Example: Waves generated on a slinky

Fig-6: Longitudinal waves on a slinky-2

In longitudinal waves, the vibrations are parallel to the direction of the wave’s motion. The region where the particles are pushed together is called compression, and the region where the particles are spread apart is called rarefaction.

Examples of longitudinal waves are:

• The sound waves
• Earthquake waves or P waves

### Difference Between Longitudinal and Transverse Waves:

When a transverse wave propagates through a medium, crests and troughs or hills and valleys are generated.

Fig-7: Difference between longitudinal and transverse waves

When a longitudinal wave propagates through a medium, a region of compressions and rarefactions are generated.

#### Exercise:

• A wave is a disturbance that carries energy through matter or space.
• Electromagnetic waves (light waves) are non-mechanical waves, they don’t require any medium to travel. They can even travel through a vacuum.
• Mechanical waves require a medium to travel. Waves on the water’s surface, the waves that travel down a rope or a slinky, and sound waves are mechanical waves.
• In longitudinal waves, the medium particles vibrate parallel to the direction of propagation of the waves. In longitudinal waves, compressions, and rarefactions are generated.
• In transverse waves, the medium particles vibrate perpendicular to the direction of propagation of the waves. In transverse waves, Crests (hills) and Troughs (valleys) are generated.

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