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So, oscillating an electron

  1. Apr 17, 2010 #1
    Hello guys,
    Ok, so today in school my physics teacher was talking to us about waves and how they are formed etc. He told us that a transverse wave is formed by oscillating an electron and the 'electron oscillates perpendicular to the direction of movement'.
    So, here's the problem I can't get my head can't get around:

    So for me to create a transverse wave, all I would need to do is get a single electron and oscillate it up and down and *poof* a wave would be created??

    Any feedback is appreciated
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 17, 2010 #2
    Whenever charge is accelerated (ie. your oscillation) it will radiate. Charges have an electric field around them, when it is oscillated, the field changes with time. The changing fields induce other fields in electromagnetic radiation. Its like a wave with a string. The string is there regardless, but only when its oscillating that its considered a wave.
     
  4. Apr 17, 2010 #3

    berkeman

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    Staff: Mentor

    Hopefully you are learning about Maxwell's equations right now as well. The "poof" is in the equations... :smile:
     
  5. Apr 17, 2010 #4

    berkeman

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    Staff: Mentor

    And yes, that is how antennas work. Pretty cool, eh?
     
  6. Apr 17, 2010 #5
    By the standard, the "poof" does retain the conservation of energy in that energy is required to accelerate the electron...at least that is how it is conserved classically I think.
     
  7. Apr 18, 2010 #6
    The electron has a static field that remains attached, but when it accelerates it produces a electric field that is radiated.
    For example a vertical antenna, oriented like a telephone pole, will radiate a pattern when electrons in it are accelerated back and forth vertically.
    The pattern produced looks like: imagine a doughnut shape with a very tiny hole in the center; drop the doughnut over the antenna (vertical pole) and that is what the intensity in any direction from a "vertical" conductor looks like.
    The energy is put in the electron when it is accelerated, radiated, and then absorbed by other objects (conductors) in the radiated field.
     
  8. Apr 18, 2010 #7
    Ok, thanks for the great feedback guys, makes things much clearer for me.
     
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