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Physics Waves

Waves General properties of waves Light travels as waves Waves can be described by their amplitude, frequency or wavelength The speed of a wave can be calculated by frequency or wavelength Waves are vibrations that transfer energy from place to place without matter being transferred Some waves must travel through a substance which is known as the medium Sound waves and seismic waves are like this Other waves don't need to travel through a substance Visible light, infrared waves, microwaves and other types of electromagnetic radiation are like this Electrical and magnetic fields vibrate as the waves travel

Transverse waves: the oscillations (vibrations) are at right angles to the direction of travel and energy transfer Light and other types of electromagnetic radiation are transverse waves Longitudinal waves: the oscillations are along the same direction as the direction of travel and energy transfer Sound waves and waves in a stretched spring are longitudinal waves Longitudinal waves show areas of compression and rarefraction Amplitude: maximum disturbance from its undisturbed position Wavelength: distance between a point on one wave and the same point on the next Frequency: number of waves produced by a source each second Wave length in m/s = frequency in Hz x wavelength in metres

Waves can be refracted and diffracted Sound waves and light waves change speed when they pass across the boundary between two substances with different densities, like air and glass This causes them to change direction which is called refraction Refraction doesn't happen if the waves cross the boundary at an angle of 90 degrees (the normal) When waves meet a gap in a barrier, they carry on through the gap However, the waves spread out to some extent into the area beyond the gap which is called diffraction

The extent of the spreading waves depends on how the width of the gap compares to the wavelength of the waves Significant diffraction only happens when the wavelength is of the same order of the magnitude as the gap For example: a gap similar to the wavelength causes a lot of spreading with no sharp shadow eg. sound through a doorway or... A gap much larger than the wavelength causes little spreading and a sharp shadow eg. light through a doorway Reflection Sound waves and light waves reflect from surfaces When waves reflect they follow the rule of reflection: the angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection The normal is a line drawn at right angles to the reflector The angle of incidence is between the incoming ray and the normal The angle of reflection is between the reflected ray and the normal Smooth surfaces produce strong echoes when sound waves hit them and they can act as mirrors when light waves hit them Rough surfaces scatter light and sound in all directions although each tiny bit still follows the rule of reflection Sound and light Sound waves: longitudinal waves that must pass through a medium Echoes: reflections of sounds Light/other forms of electromagnetic radiation: transverse waves, can travel through a vacuum and they all travel at the same speed in a vacuum The greater the amplitude, the louder the sound The greater the frequency, the higher the pitch Range of human hearing: around 20 Hz to 20 kHz but the range gets less as we get older The electromagnetic spectrum is a continuous range of wavelengths The types of radiation that occur in different parts have different uses White light can be split up in a prism to form a spectrum The light waves are refracted when they enter and leave the prism The shorter the wavelength of the light, the more it is refracted Red light is refracted the least, violet light is refracted the most Lowest to highest: Radiowaves Microwaves Infrared

Visible lights Ultraviolet light X-rays Gamma radiation