Progressive Waves

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Waves - Examples

Waves transfer energy from one place to another without transferring matter. Wave motion (the movement of waves) can be shown by the vibrations of a spring or by water waves.

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Springs - transverse waves

  • Hold one end of a horizontal spring in a fixed position and move the other end of the spring up and down.
  • We can observe a wave moving from the end we are holding towards the fixed end of the spring.
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  • When a wave travels along the surface of water, a cork floating on the surface of the water will only move up and down as the wave passes.

Frequency and Period

All waves have a frequency and a period of oscillation.

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  • Frequency is the number of oscillations (vibrations) per second.
    • Frequency = number of oscillations ÷ time
  • The frequency is equal to 1 divided by the period.
    • Frequency = 1 ÷ period
  • Frequency is measured in Hertz (Hz).
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  • The period of a wave is the time taken to complete one oscillation (vibration).
  • It is equal to 1 divided by the frequency.
    • Period = 1 ÷ frequency
  • The period of a wave is measured in seconds.

Jump to other topics

1Measurements & Errors

2Particles & Radiation


4Mechanics & Materials


6Further Mechanics & Thermal Physics (A2 only)

7Fields & Their Consequences (A2 only)

8Nuclear Physics (A2 only)

9Option: Astrophysics (A2 only)

10Option: Medical Physics (A2 only)

11Option: Engineering Physics (A2 only)

12Option: Turning Points in Physics (A2 only)

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