Solitons vs standard waves

  • Thread starter gentsagree
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  • #1
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I have just started reading about them, so forgive my basic question. I wonder how a "standard" wave propagating on a string whose end has been moved and brought back to its initial position is different from a soliton. Or is it indeed a solitary wave?

I ask because when studying waves before, I had never encountered solitons, which make me think that the two are different things and I am just getting confused here.
 

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  • #2
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Solitons are a bit different. Standard waves will disapate over time ie spread out and get smaller whereas a soliton will maintain its shape for far longer and appear not to spread or get smaller.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soliton

I remember seeing a video of a soliton wave made by a boat traversing a canal as if created by a ghost ship.
 

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