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Homework Help: Light waves vs. mechanical waves

  1. Oct 21, 2007 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    I just have a question; whats the main difference between light waves and mechanical waves? I know that light waves are transverse. I also know that water waves are transverse, but sound waves are longitudinal. I know that light has a dual nature, and travels in both wave and particle form...but is that the only difference?

    2. Relevant equations

    3. The attempt at a solution
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 22, 2007 #2
    It all depends on how deep you want to go down the rabbit hole. You hit the highlights, but light has a whole field named after it, optics, of which you have hardly touched. Optics can range in difficulty, depending on the application, from some of the most complex Fourier optics to some pretty simple geometric optics. I don't know much about mechanical waves, but I'm sure they have more details as well. Anyway, you hit on the branching points, and from there it is which tree you want to follow.
  4. Oct 22, 2007 #3
    There is ONE answer to this.

    Mechanical waves require a media, do light waves?

  5. Oct 22, 2007 #4
    good point! thank you so much!
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