On Earth, waves can be described as many things, the picture above shows us an example of a water wave; these are one of the many waves we can visibly see with our eyes. There are also other waves that we cannot see with our eyes such as Sound waves, and light waves. Waves transfer energy over a distance, so water, sound, and light waves originate from objects that vibrate; this is known as mechanical waves.
When looking at mechanical waves we see there are 2 different types of them, they are transverse and longitudinal waves. A transverse describes a wave in which particles flow in perpendicular to the direction of the energy. An example is when a guitar string is plucked the string vibrates perpendicular to the direction of the flow of the energy.
A longitudinal wave is when the particles are in the same direction as the flow of energy. An example is a slinky when it oscillates the flow of the energy and the direction of the string is in the same direction.
Waves also have different characteristics that are described based on their shape and size, there are many key factors such as amplitude, wavelength, phase, and phase shift. Amplitude is the maximum displacement of a wave from its equilibrium position. Wavelength is the distance between two similar points in a cycle. Phase is the x coordinate of a point in the wave. Phase shift is the shift of the entire wave in the x-axis.
The speed of a wave can be determined with the formula v = Fλ, V being the speed of the wave, F being the frequency of the wave and λ being the wavelength of the wave.
Waves can collide with one another and create new waves in a process called interference. There are two types of wave interference called Constructive interference and destructive interference.
Constructive is when two waves collide to create a wave that has an amplitude greater than the two waves combined. An example would be two speakers next to each other blasting music to create two waves that form into one wave that blasts louder music than the two waves combined.
Destructive interference is when two waves create a new wave that has an amplitude less than the two waves combined. An example of this is noise cancelling headphones they send out waves that block noise from other sounds.
When a child swings they will not swing forever, air resistance and the friction in the swing system will bring the child to a stop, this is known as damping. Damping is the reduction in the amplitude of a wave due to the result of energy absorption or destructive interference.
When looking for applications of waves we can use the intensity of a sound, it is described by the energy per unit area that passes a point each second