1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Pulse vs wave

  1. Jan 1, 2016 #1
    In images I always seen pulses as a part of a wave corresponding to an half of a piece of wave, but it is called still a pulse when we have a part with a complete wavelength? I mean this (in the photo)

    And what the difference between waves and pulses?

    What I think is that is still a pulse because a wave is a non stoping oscillation, not just one

    Attached Files:

  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 1, 2016 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    A pulse is a form of wave. In particular, it's called pulse, usually because it has finite extent in space and time - it's oscillating and propagating, but confined within certain spatial extent at any given time. So, in this regard, both situations you drew there describe two different pulses. You can build a pulsed wave by superposing many sinusoidal waves of different frequencies. For example, try plotting ##\sum_{k=1}^10 \sin k\omega x##, you should see that this function takes the form a repeated pulses which also oscillates along.
  4. Jan 1, 2016 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    2017 Award

    I would call the first one a doublet and the second one a pulse. The difference from a wave is the abrupt start and stop that implies a very complicated frequency content. Usually the doublet and the pulse are in the form of steps, but I would still guess that the frequency content of your examples are closer to the doublet / pulse than to a continuous wave.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook