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Homework Help: Seemingly incomprehensible Wave motion

  1. Sep 30, 2006 #1
    This may not be the best place to ask this question ..... heck it isnt even homework ..... Im trying to get a head start on next weeks lesson which is wave motion ..... My book keeps referring to a term "wave front" , it mentions it twice/thrice during an explanation of interfernce patterns as seen on ripple tanks but doesnt actually say what it is .... my question is what is a wave front ? and how does this cause the interference ripple effects ?? (Im familliar with Youngs double slit experiment and how it works , although im totally lost on how concentric circles cause superpostiton of waves ??? :grumpy: )
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 30, 2006 #2
  4. Sep 30, 2006 #3
    hmm....assume you drop a ball into a water tank and the circles that form around the ball are the wavefront.....get it?if you cant jus get a pail of water and drop a ball in it and view from the top.anyway, lets say 2 wavefront meets(when it bounce back from the side of the tank) they will superimpose causing the interference pattern.
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2006
  5. Sep 30, 2006 #4
    hmm .... I still dont get it ... is a wave front equivalent to a wave or say a ray ??
  6. Sep 30, 2006 #5
    ok the definition bit from Wikipedia goes "...a wavefront is the locus (a line, or, in a wave propagating in 3 dimensions a surface) of points having the same phase"

    didn't get what its trying to say ... this lesson is a first for meh , bear with me and my english isnt all that good :)
  7. Sep 30, 2006 #6
  8. Sep 30, 2006 #7
    so a wavefront is a group of waves in which a point on each of the waves are exactly located at their crests ??
  9. Sep 30, 2006 #8
    sorry if this seems annoying .... how does that fit into the description made by semc about picturing water waves ?? im totally lost
  10. Sep 30, 2006 #9
    Wavefront is really just a front of the wave. If the wave propogates like a circle then the wavefront will be a circle and if it's propogating like a sphear the front will be shaped like a sphear.
  11. Sep 30, 2006 #10
    oki still dont get it , dropping this head start thingy .... thnx anyways
  12. Sep 30, 2006 #11
    hmm... i think it is easier to understand this way,wavefront = crest/trough get it?
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