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Homework Help: Energy in a Stationary Wave

  1. Dec 17, 2014 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    Show that the potential and kinetic energy densities for a stationary wave are not equal.
    2. Relevant equations
    A) The 1-D Wave Equation:
    $$ \frac{\partial^{2} \psi}{\partial x^{2}} = \frac{1}{v^{2}} \frac{\partial^{2}\psi}{\partial t^{2}}$$
    B) The general form of a stationary wave: (?)
    $$ \psi(x,t) = f(x+vt) +f(x-vt) $$

    C)Formula for total energy density in a stationary wave: (w)
    $$ w = \frac{\mu}{2}\bigg[ v^{2}\big(\frac{\partial \psi}{\partial x} \big)^{2}+\big( \frac{\partial \psi}{\partial t} \big)^{2} \bigg] $$

    3. The attempt at a solution
    i) Work out the partial derivatives of ## \psi(x,t) ##
    Let $$ z_{0} =x+vt , z_{1}=x-vt $$

    $$ \implies \psi(x,t) = f(z_{0})+f(z_{1}) $$
    $$ \frac{\partial \psi}{\partial x} = f'(z_{0})+f'(z_{1}) $$
    $$ \frac{\partial \psi}{\partial t} = v[f'(z_{0}) -f'(z_{1})] $$

    ii) If the kinetic and potential energy densities are equal it implies:

    $$ v^{2} \big(\frac{\partial \psi}{\partial x} \big)^{2} = \big( \frac{\partial \psi}{\partial t} \big)^{2} $$

    iii) So substitute the values from i) into this, get:

    $$ [f'(z_{0})+f'(z_{1})]^{2} = [f'(z_{0})-f'(z_{1})]^{2} $$

    Which is not, in general true, therefore proved?

    But I'm not sure I used the correct form for the equation of the stationary wave, or is this still acceptable?

  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 17, 2014 #2
    I think the equation you used that is the general solution for the wave equation. In my opinion, the form of the standing wave is give as follows
  4. Dec 17, 2014 #3
    Yes, but a stationary wave is by definition formed from two travelling waves moving in opposite directions which means it can then be rewritten in the form
    that you suggest with the time and space separated?
    Or is that not right?
  5. Dec 17, 2014 #4


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    Gold Member

    No, the definition is as Vipho posted. It is a matter of deduction that two travelling waves of the same amplitude, frequency and speed moving in opposite directions, and satisfying the wave equation, form a standing wave.
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