Homework Help: Confusion between waves and particles, which one is vibrating?

1. Aug 5, 2007

MIA6

1. A wave whose particles vibrate perpendicularly to the direction it is traveling is called transverse wave. Here is my question, in the mechanical waves, I am sort of confused with 'wave' and 'particles in the medium'? Which one is really vibrating? It is said that sine waves describe particles vibrating with simple harmonic motion. I don't know what's the relationship between wave and particles. For example, a pebble is dropped into a pond, and particles in the medium, water molecules move in vertical circles as waves pass. What's the relations betweeen water molecules and waves?
2. Is that the difference between 'pulse wave' and 'periodic wave' is one consists of only one pulse, the other one consists of many pulses, just like a sine wave?

Thanks for helping me.

Last edited: Aug 6, 2007
2. Aug 6, 2007

MIA6

Can anyone help me with my first question?

3. Aug 6, 2007

rootX

Ok, I will try:

1. First, wave is not a particle(something that you can see, touch, or something that has mass). It is just prorogation of energy/ or is a disturbance created in a medium.
So, it's the particles that are vibrating. And they vibrate due to the energy that is passing through the medium.

Don't consider waves as something

:uhh: I can't explain more than that.

4. Aug 6, 2007

MIA6

Thanks. I sort of get what you said. Wave is a disturbance, and when it happens, it makes the particles around it move, and these are particles actually vibrating. So the wave graph like sine wave that we have seen describes the movement of particles? Because I always thought that sine wave describes the movement of wave, not particles. i always imagine a wave like a sine wave, a rope, and it moves up and down. So wave is just an energy that makes the particles in the medium move? But it's still hard to figure out the difference between wave and particles separately. They are like a whole thing.

Last edited: Aug 6, 2007
5. Aug 6, 2007

rootX

So wave is just an energy that makes the particles in the medium move?
>yes, that's right! :P

So the wave graph like sine wave that we have seen describes the movement of particles?
>It's the movement of one particle.

6. Aug 6, 2007

MIA6

A wave whose particles vibrate perpendicularly to the direction it is traveling is called transverse wave. Look at this definition, it seems that particles are included in 'wave'? like wave contains particles? As I said, it's hard to find out the boundary between wave and particles.