1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Confused about definition of wavelength!

  1. Oct 26, 2012 #1
    Wavelength of a sinusoidal wave is defined as the spatial period of the wave, which can be measured between any two points on the wave where the shape repeats. But if my wave is defined as a function of time (like those of a simple harmonic oscillator), how can you say the distance along the time axis is the wavelength? Am I measuring something else that just happens to be equal to the distance between two points in the same phase along the time axis? How can the time axis determine the wavelength of a wave? Also; isn't that distance the period? The amount of time it takes for the wave to complete one cycle? In which case the velocity of the wave would always equal one?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 26, 2012 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Who says it is a wavelength?

    In that case, this is now known as the period of oscillation, which you stated later.

  4. Oct 26, 2012 #3
    you mean just like a sine wave???

    Time relates directly to frequency.....they are inverses.....

    If you don't get what I mean, just plot some waves and LABEL the axes you choose to use....
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook