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What is Resonance?

Resonance is when the natural frequency of the system is equal to the frequency of an external
force. This results in oscillating at an increased amplitude.

Situations where it is desirable

 In a microwave oven, the driving frequency of the microwaves matches the natural
frequency of the water molecules in the food. This causes the water molecules to
resonate, causing maximum amplitude, heating the water molecules.

 Tuning forks resonate at a particular frequency and an example of such is a quartz watch.
The crystal vibrates at a particular frequency, and is made to do so by applying small
voltages to metal electrodes placed on the surface of the crystal.

Situations where it is undesirable

 A bridge can experience resonance when a wind passes the bridge which has a driving
frequency equal to the natural frequency of the bridge. This causes the bridge to resonate,
the increase in amplitude can cause the bridge to collapse

 In washing machines, the driving frequency of the drum can equal the natural frequency
of the casing. This causes the washing machine casing to resonate.

Examples of forced oscillations

Forced oscillation- when an external force is applied to the original frequency causing a change
in the frequency of the oscillation.

Examples of damped oscillations (graphs)

 Light Damping

Defined oscillations are observed, but the amplitude of oscillation is reduced gradually
with time.
 Heavy Damping

The system returns to the equilibrium position very slowly, without any oscillation.
Heavy damping occurs when the resistive forces exceed those of critical damping.

 Critical Damping
The system returns to its equilibrium position in the shortest possible time without any

How damping is achieved in real life examples

 Shock absorber in Vehicles- Forces set up by road shocks are stored in the spring instead
of being passed on to the passenger
 Rubber in washing machines – the vibrations and shock coming from the washing
machine when it spins is stored in the rubber, thus allowing it to spin more smoothly
 Dampers to prevent bridges from resonating – there are force generators that actively
push on the structure to counteract a disturbance. There are also more passive dampers
and semi-active dampers that combine features of both passive and active damping.