Bullwhip wave mechanics: What changes?

  1. Greylorn

    Greylorn 48
    Gold Member

    What wave property changes as a bullwhip wave propagates toward the tip? Wavelength or amplitude?

    The problem seemed at first analogous to that of describing the behavior of a sound wave propagating through air of linearly decreasing density, except that sound is longitudinal.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Bill_K

    Bill_K 4,160
    Science Advisor

    This is one of those controversial issues that seesaws between rival camps: in this case the supersonic versus the non-supersonic factions. Even skilled whip crackers disagree. The best explanation I've found so far is here: http://home.comcast.net/~a-mcnibble/Rants/WhyWhipsCrack.pdf according to which it's the concentration of kinetic energy into a smaller and smaller whip segment that does it.
     
  4. Greylorn

    Greylorn 48
    Gold Member

    Thank you! The link answered the question in favor of amplitude, and is a fine exposition of other aspects of wave mechanics, providing even more to think about. Greatly appreciated.
     
  5. Greylorn

    Greylorn 48
    Gold Member

    Bill,
    Great link! Although I was more interested in the mechanics of a transverse wave in a variable medium (looking for cosmological implications) than in what happens at the end of a wave's transmission, I was being short sighted. The end may be the most important part of the problem. Thank you for the insight!
     
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