# Is oscillation a standing wave?

• pinsky
In summary, the conversation touches on the idea of observing a simple longitudinal oscillator as a standing wave, the role of connectivity in wave propagation, the effects of excitation by continuous higher harmonics, and the potential for devastating effects of resonance frequencies. The concept of gain in amplitude is also mentioned, along with the example of a flute and its response to different types of excitation. The Tacoma Narrows bridge is brought up as an example of the destructive power of resonance frequencies.

#### pinsky

Hello there!

I was thinking is it possible to observe a simple longitudinal oscilator (lets say a mass on a string) as a standing wave?

Thinking maybe as wave which has a front 4 times than the size of the string. So when we excite the string, we are actually emmiting a wave.

One more thing relatied to oscillations and resonannce. How does an object react when excited by continuous higher harmonics?

Is the gain in the amplitude of oscillation different that of when a body is excited by its natural frequency?

Can higher harmonic also have devastating effects as does excitation by a resonance frequency?

A single oscillator isn't really a wave. It only has one of the two key elements-- a restoring force. The other key element is connectivity-- the work done by the restoring force, instead of being stored in a local potential, has to be communicated to the neighboring environment. That connectivity, or ability to communicate energy, is the key aspect of propagation. So even though a standing wave doesn't propagate, it can be thought of as counter-propagating waves whose propagation effectively cancels, not the absence of the ability to propagate.

Excitation by continuous harmonics is typical. For example, when you blow into a flute, your breath is creating an input over a wide frequency band, but the flute picks out the resonance frequency and all its harmonics. However, some frequencies have more power in the original signal, and some resonate better. Often the fundamental is maximized for both those reasons, but a lot of the design of the instrument goes into the response to the various overtones. So flutes sound different from guitars, both because they are excited by a different type of "power spectrum", and because they respond differently to that excitation. So you are right-- there is an issue of gain that depends on frequency.

As for devastating effects, some time look at the video of the Tacoma Narrows bridge. It was destroyed by a resonance that does not look like the fundamental frequency of the bridge, there appear to be several nodes.

Ken G is right. However, you can think of an oscillator as tracing out the shape of a wave as it oscillates. Analogous to this is the situation of electrical charges which may oscillate, causing the medium they make up to emit an electromagnetic wave.

## 1. What is oscillation?

Oscillation refers to the back and forth motion of an object or system around a central point or equilibrium position. This motion can be periodic, meaning it repeats over and over, or it can be non-periodic.

## 2. What is a standing wave?

A standing wave is a type of wave that appears to be standing still, hence the name. This is because it is formed by the interference of two waves traveling in opposite directions, causing certain points in the wave to appear stationary while others continue to oscillate.

## 3. How is oscillation related to standing waves?

Oscillation is the fundamental movement that creates standing waves. Without oscillation, standing waves would not exist. The back and forth motion of particles in a medium creates the characteristic pattern of standing waves.

## 4. What are some examples of oscillation and standing waves?

Examples of oscillation and standing waves can be found in various phenomena such as sound waves in a musical instrument, water waves in a tank, and electromagnetic waves in a microwave oven. They also play a crucial role in many technological applications, such as in telecommunications and laser technology.

## 5. How are oscillation and standing waves important in science?

Oscillation and standing waves are important in science because they are fundamental concepts that help us understand many natural phenomena. They are also used in various scientific fields, including physics, engineering, and astronomy, to study and manipulate waves and their properties.