Do light and sound waves roll up and break like ocean waves?

  • #51
olivermsun
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If the boat is traveling slowly (i.e., less than the so-called "hull speed"), the bow wave can actually be fairly quite smooth (non-breaking), provided the boat has a reasonably fine entry and you aren't driving into much chop.

If you are getting close to hull speed then, yes, this starts to be reminiscent of a shock.
 
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  • #52
kbomeisl
Referring to low frequency radio waves:
Conductivity of the surface affects the propagation of ground waves, with more conductive surfaces such as sea water providing better propagation.[8] Increasing the conductivity in a surface results in less dissipation.[9] The refractive indices are subject to spatial and temporal changes. Since the ground is not a perfect electrical conductor, ground waves are attenuated as they follow the earth’s surface. The wavefronts initially are vertical, but the ground, acting as a lossy dielectric, causes the wave to tilt forward as it travels. This directs some of the energy into the earth where it is dissipated,[10] so that the signal decreases exponentially.

www.jpier.org/PIER/pier19/02.970718p.Ling.SU.pdf

So, yes apparently EM waves crash in the same place that water waves crash due to the change in conductivity between shore and ocean water.
 
  • #53
sophiecentaur
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So, yes apparently EM waves crash in the same place that water waves crash due to the change in conductivity between shore and ocean water.
Ground waves surprised early experimenters who expected much greater losses over the horizon for MF and LF waves. I can see how your analogy is attractive but ground waves are a linear phenomenon and happen the same for all signal levels. All that is happening is a tilted wave front so I don't think it really counts, unfortunately.
 

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