Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Propagating wave

  1. May 1, 2010 #1
    Hi. Can someone explain for a propagating wave (ie an EM wave) when it is represented as oscillating and portrayed as a sine wave. What does the oscillation physically mean? Energy is being transfered as the wave propagates but what does the oscillation actually mean?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 1, 2010 #2

    Dale

    Staff: Mentor

    It means that a small positive test charge placed anywhere the field is oscillating would experience an oscillating force.
     
  4. May 1, 2010 #3
    Ok. So what is it about the source of the wave that causes the oscillation?
     
  5. May 1, 2010 #4

    Dale

    Staff: Mentor

    I don't know what kind of an answer you are looking for here.
     
  6. May 1, 2010 #5
    Oscillating dipoles create EM-waves with the same frequency as the oscillation itself.
     
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook