Exploring the Wave Phenomenon in Physics

In summary: This is what we call a wave because it's the result of a disturbance in the medium. In the case of physical objects, the medium is usually a fluid (like water or air). The reason waves exist is because the medium is capable of storing and releasing energy in a way that is governed by the laws of physics. This is why waves are a common phenomenon in many fields of science, like electromagnetism and heat.However, there's one important thing to keep in mind when studying waves: they're not the only type of movement
  • #1
garfield1729
6
0
hi all

why do many things in physics move in waves ?

in fact , if I am not mistaken , everything apart from mass moves in waves :

electromagnetism ( and light ) , heat ( not ? ) (do phonons move in waves or lines ? ) ,
radioactiv rays , weak nuclear force , gravitons (?) and many " tiny tiny things".

why in waves ?

spacetime curvature does not cause the wave behavior or does it ?

i hope for a simple answer ( since I am no expert in physics )

regards
garfield1729
 
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  • #2
garfield1729 said:
in fact , if I am not mistaken , everything apart from mass moves in waves :

I don't know why they associate everything with waves (and personally I don't believe in any wave other than mechanical waves). There are de-broglie waves associated with matter too! So there is nothing in the universe which is not a wave(according to the scientists).
 
  • #3
De-broglie wavelength has been experimentally proven for electrons showing interference patterns.

I'm not sure the OP question is answerable, though. It's just the way things are.
 
  • #4
Well, you usually get a wave when a change in one point causes changes to other points around it in a time dependent way.
 
  • #5
I am not so sure. Something moving must be a kind of energy. And energy changes from one form to another and vice versa, that's the way it holds itself when moving.
Hope to hear from others.
 
  • #6
@garfield1729:

It's actually a very interesting question. In fact mass DO move in wave, in a circular or otherwise conical trajectory. They do not get 'transported' -that's it.

However, any movement should be steady like a jet erupting from an, medical syringe or oscillating, with peaks and troughs. The easiest describable of oscillating movement is via simple harmonic waves.

Waves that are mathematically describable at ease are rather much investigated (after all, mathematicians also prefer easier problems to tackle first).. and popularized ;-)

Unfortunately, nature also seems to prefer simple harmonics.

Answer to this preference is stated like this: Force = -(a positive constant)*(displacement) results in Simple Harmonics. So wherever thee situation gives a force in opposite direction and directly proportional to displacement, you know what it means.

I rather wander, whether it is really Simple Harmonic, or appears as so. Thus I am trying to set up experiments to see in depth.

________

http://moonforhumanity.zxq.net
 
  • #7
I don't know the answer to this question, except that maybe as adastra mentions mathematics has thoroughly analyzed waves so we have many “off the shelf” components ready to go for building wave-based models in science. (“When you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”)

One thing that I've always thought was interesting in relation to the prevalence of waves in science is that it's been mathematically proven that any function, including sine and cosine and other trigonometric functions and combinations of them, can be approximated to any degree of accuracy by a polynomial expression (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polynomial_interpolation" all the time.

Grrr, image code is off here, but look at this:
Sintay.png


The colored lines are polynomials written to match sine near to the the origin.
 
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  • #8
Whenever I see 'wave' (unless you are talking mechanical waves), I always think 'wave of probability'.
 
  • #9
I've gotten the impression that ‘wave’ is probably not the greatest term to describe quantum stuff. Sure the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isosurface" of electron shells, et cetera, are curved but the equations that describe them don't employ trigonometric functions and they aren't even cyclical, which is a basic proprety of waves in the classical sense. I think the only reason ‘wave’ has made its way into things like the ‘wave function’ is due to the pre-quantum ‘particle/wave duality’, which is an obsolete quandary that quantum mechanics replaced.
 
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  • #10
what i believe that wave motion is far more generalised than just to mechanical systems .
what wave tell us is about a self propagated change in some property of any spatial continuous medium ( i don't know much about abstract science or wave in hyperspace)
so trying to make it simple ,wave is not just a harmonic motion but a propagating change induced from particle to particle.
 
  • #11
garfield1729 said:
hi all

why do many things in physics move in waves ?

in fact , if I am not mistaken , everything apart from mass moves in waves :

electromagnetism ( and light ) , heat ( not ? ) (do phonons move in waves or lines ? ) ,
radioactiv rays , weak nuclear force , gravitons (?) and many " tiny tiny things".

why in waves ?

spacetime curvature does not cause the wave behavior or does it ?

i hope for a simple answer ( since I am no expert in physics )

regards
garfield1729

It's an interesting question that shows the value of conceptual abstraction, and the "gift" of mathematics to formulate laws of physics.

First off, what's a wave? That's not so easy to answer without being very specific. So let's go the other way- what are some observed phenomena that do not fit into a Newtonian point-mass conceptual description? There's lots: Fluid surface waves. Sound. Light, under some conditions.

It's important to recognize the difference between the description of a phenomenon and the phenomenon itself. For example, consider light. Originally, it was thought that light was made of particles (corpsicles), as was heat (caloric). Then additional experiments showed that light can behave like a water or sound wave- interference, diffraction, spreading, etc. Maxwell's equations describe light as a wave. Then came quantum mechanics and the idea of a photon. However, it was recognized by then that light can act as a particle and as a wave, and it was possible to observe both properties (not at the same time, but in the same apparatus).

So in truth, things are not only waves or particles. What they 'are' is not relevant in science, what is relevant is how accurately can predictions be made or how accurately can an experimental result be described.
 
  • #12
  • #13
CaptainQuasar said:
it's been mathematically proven that any function, including sine and cosine and other trigonometric functions and combinations of them, can be approximated to any degree of accuracy by a polynomial expression (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polynomial_interpolation" all the time.

CaptainQuassar, this reminds me of Fourier stuff (sorry if I misspelt) .. But this can be one with only certain limits of accuracy. Well you can increase accuracy by iterating the process over and over, that's a bit tiresome ... wondering for some smarter idea.
 
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  • #14
adastra said:
CaptainQuassar, this reminds me of Fourier stuff (sorry if I misspelt) .. But this can be one with only certain limits of accuracy. Well you can increase accuracy by iterating the process over and over, that's a bit tiresome ... wondering for some smarter idea.

Funny thing is it's literally a limit. The more times you repeat the process the closer it approximates the target function ad infinitum. There's a proof of that somewhere.

I just mean to say it's interesting and I wonder if it says something deeper about the universe, when wavelike phenomena are everywhere, that polynomials can approximate waves in that fashion.
 
  • #15
CaptainQuasar said:
I just mean to say it's interesting and I wonder if it says something deeper about the universe, when wavelike phenomena are everywhere, that polynomials can approximate waves in that fashion.

Nice question. You mean the physical significance of this phenomenon? I am interested from top to bottom, really.

I wish to set up an experiment, maybe you will help me please!
 
  • #16
adastra said:
Nice question. You mean the physical significance of this phenomenon? I am interested from top to bottom, really.

I wish to set up an experiment, maybe you will help me please!

Yeah, something like the physical significance, though I was thinking at a really high level, like some sort of congruence between wavelike and non-wavelike phenomena.

I could try to help you with an experiment but we'd have to come up with a more specific hypothesis first.
 
  • #17
thanks, amigo .. I will report to you soon.

I will help you with experimental facilities in Earth AND moon.

________________

http://moonforhumanity.zxq.net
 
  • #18
adastra said:
I will help you with experimental facilities in Earth AND moon.

To infinity and beyond!
 
  • #20
Andy Resnick said:
I was taught that discussing the "true nature" of things is philosophy.

You're using pejorative language, man. That's more unscientific than wondering what something is.

Asking what something is, what mechanism or phenomenon underlies is, is straight-up science. That's where you get the hypotheses you're going to test.

And by the way, the scientific method - the empirical process you use to test things experimentally? That's a form of philosophy. Called Empiricism.

Trying to characterize these sorts of questions as some sort of quixotic philosophical quest is silly and mean-spirited.
 
  • #21
It's not my intention to be perjorative; I claim somethings indeed lie beyond science, and it is not wrong to state so.

Asking what a phenomenon 'is' is not science. Asking 'by what mechanism does something occur' is science. The difference between the two should be clear- one may argue about 'essence' without recourse to experiment- but one cannot do the second without having repeatable, falsifiable experiments.

The scientific method is a lot more than simple empiricism. With what experience do we generate imaginary numbers?
 
  • #22
Imaginary numbers were not arrived at by empiricism nor the scientific method.

You can definitely argue about the underying mechanisms of things without any experimentation. You're attempting to split hairs without a firm understanding or articulation of the matters involved here.

Asking what something is isn't the same thing as philosophically musing about essences or natures or the human meaning of it. Again, it's pejorative to imply that's the case.
 
  • #23
garfield1729 said:
hi all

why do many things in physics move in waves ?

in fact , if I am not mistaken , everything apart from mass moves in waves :

electromagnetism ( and light ) , heat ( not ? ) (do phonons move in waves or lines ? ) ,
radioactiv rays , weak nuclear force , gravitons (?) and many " tiny tiny things".

why in waves ?

spacetime curvature does not cause the wave behavior or does it ?

i hope for a simple answer ( since I am no expert in physics )

regards
garfield1729

Hello there, hope it helps even though I am self-taught person (I don't learn about quantum physics in year 10) I think this might help you since you obviously don't know much more than I do.

I am very confused by your question. I don't think you made it clear enough. However:
You said everything appart from mass moves in waves. That is incorrect according to quantum physics. Every particle is a wave and vice versa. This goes for all particles in the standart model as far as I know (not sure about gluons) no matter if they are massles or not.
So all particles are basicaly waves until you measure them. Its more complicated than that but the basic ida is there.

Why is that? I don't know, I don't think quantum physics will give you better answer either. Its just the way the universe is.

Please don't mix so many different things togever. Heat is too general of a term and on its own it doesn't mean anything. Gravity has nothing to do with particles, it is curvature in spacetime (hold on to that until you decide to study quantum gravity and gravitons). And as far as I know spacetime curvature has nothing to do with wave function.

Hope it helped.
 
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  • #24
CaptainQuasar said:
Imaginary numbers were not arrived at by empiricism nor the scientific method.

You can definitely argue about the underying mechanisms of things without any experimentation. You're attempting to split hairs without a firm understanding or articulation of the matters involved here.

Asking what something is isn't the same thing as philosophically musing about essences or natures or the human meaning of it. Again, it's pejorative to imply that's the case.

You seem very protective of your ideas.
 
  • #25
Andy Resnick said:
You seem very protective of your ideas.

I am. Amazing how I can like my own ideas so much without characterizing other peoples' as unscientific or wishy-washy, isn't it? You should try it.
 
  • #26
Aetherists liked their ideas, too. So did Heliocentrists, and flat-Earthers.
 
  • #27
Andy Resnick said:
Aetherists liked their ideas, too. So did Heliocentrists, and flat-Earthers.

You're not objecting to any scientific theory or statement or point of view. You're objecting to others asking the sorts of questions you evidently feel too inhibited to be asking yourself.

If you have trouble asking or answering questions like what something is, step aside and let someone else take on the important jobs. Especially if you're going to talk about imaginary numbers having been arrived at via the scientific method.

Don't involve the rest of us in ego games about who's got the most scientific or most easily anointed viewpoint. When you can disprove something, disprove it. Don't try to make someone feel dumb for simply asking questions.

P.S. On the other hand, if you can make fun of someone in the process of disproving a ludicrous claim, that's totally okay because I do it all the time.
 
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  • #28
I'm not interested in changing your mind. It's not worth my time.
 
  • #29
Tell me if my understanding about this matter is right...is this the reality?

Everything is a wave...some fluctuate more than others...for instance, solids are still trying to set up equilibruim with the universe...why? And why so much slower than gaseous? The way I see it, the more matter centered at one place, the faster it should spread out...

Now that was what wave is...now tell me if my understanding is correct about how wave behave...

when an explosion occurs, the wavelenths released continue to travel forever till they reach equilibrium with the universe...however, b/c of some attraction/repulsion forces, they stop much earlier before they complete this task...this is a little confusing...can someone clarify this for me?

Thanks.
 
  • #30
Riogho said:
Whenever I see 'wave' (unless you are talking mechanical waves), I always think 'wave of probability'.

Facinating. On something of a side question, what is probability? I look it up in the dictionary and I get something about the Monte Carlo method. So why does a roulette wheel model--or dice, or whatever, appear central to quantum mechanics? It's a bit peculiar explaining quantum mechanics in terms of Newtonian models to me.
 
  • #31
Phrak said:
Facinating. On something of a side question, what is probability? I look it up in the dictionary and I get something about the Monte Carlo method. So why does a roulette wheel model--or dice, or whatever, appear central to quantum mechanics? It's a bit peculiar explaining quantum mechanics in terms of Newtonian models to me.
It's worse than you think - the wave in QM is 'probability ampiltude' which is like a square-root of probability. But, the classical laws are recovered in the limit with QM as you can see in any course in basic QM.
 
  • #32
Mentz, do you have any thoughts on the subject? In the mathematical discription, you've got this probabiliy function showing up in stark contrast to other mathematical elements.

In one way of looking at it, it's value is 'acausal', or in a mechanistic approach, and in the language of information theory, the value obtained is a 'reduction in ignorance'.

Sorry, I don't seem to have the words to do this stuff justice...

---------

Concerning waves, I seem to have a somewhat different view. Many things have first and second derviaties in space and time. The appearance of the time derivatives makes them noticable to us because they move. Even more noticable because they can still move when the source of the disturbance is displaced in space and time; box(A)=0.
 
  • #33
Mentz, do you have any thoughts on the subject?
I don't believe the wave-function or the probability amplitudes exist in the way an electric field or an atom exist. Millions of words have been used on the interpretation of QM and this is not the place to add to the tally.

I don't think I understand your other remarks.
 
  • #34
Mentz114 said:
I don't believe the wave-function or the probability amplitudes exist in the way an electric field or an atom exist. Millions of words have been used on the interpretation of QM and this is not the place to add to the tally.

I don't think I understand your other remarks.

I share your thoughts. I was somewhat hesitant to bring it up myself.

The other remarks on waves are just my thoughts on waves -- nothing directly to do with probability amplitudes.
 
  • #35
Maybe it's "normal" for things to work in waves on a quantum level, just like it's "normal" for objects to travel in a straight line in classical physics. I'm not saying that explains anything, but it seems like there might be some underlying principle that connects all of the phenomena you mentioned.

I read a quote once: "In mathematics, you never understand anything, you just get used to it." =)
 

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