Solving Confusion with Waves in Physics

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• ashsully
In summary: Each harmonic is a standing wave with a different number of nodes and antinodes. The fundamental frequency is the first harmonic, which has one node and two antinodes. The second harmonic has two nodes and three antinodes, and so on. So as the harmonic number increases, so does the number of nodes and antinodes in the standing wave. In summary, waves are periodic motions that can be categorized into mechanical (requires a medium) and electromagnetic (does not require a medium) waves. Mechanical waves have two subcategories: transverse waves (where particles are displaced perpendicular to the direction of energy transport) and longitudinal waves (where particles are displaced parallel to the direction of energy transport). Standing waves have nodes and antin
ashsully
Hi everyone.
I'm currently studying waves in physics at the moment but I'm super confused and hoping someone could help me clear up some things. Firstly I'll post what I think it correct (I know it's wrong) and hopefully someone could pick up exactly where I am getting confused.

Waves are a periodic motion which flows from one place to another along a medium or empty space.
Waves have two categories:
1) Mechanical (requires a medium)
2) Electromagnetic (does not require a medium)

1) Mechanical waves have two subcategories depending on what direction the particles are displaced reference to the direction of energy transport.
i) Transverse Waves: Particles are displaced perpindicular to the direction of energy of transport.
ii) Longitudinal Waves: Particles are displaced parallel to the direction of energy of transport.

I can understand transverse and longitudinal wave examples. We got introduced to nodes & antinodes and I get the definitions of each and the difference between their respective displacements but this is the area where I'm getting confused. Do all transverse waves have antinodes and nodes?
I know that longitudinal waves have crests and troughs (compressions and rarefactions) so does that mean transverse waves have nodes and antinodes?

Now I'm also getting confused with progressive and standing waves.
From what I've read, I've heard that these are types of wave PATTERNS and not waves themselves. If so how would you know if you're going to experience a standing wave or a progressive wave in an object?
We are currently doing pipes (Open & Closed) and Strings. But I'm confused why an open pipe column will have standing waves when it's open on both ends. Shouldn't the wave just continue from one end of the pipe to the other in an uninterrupted fashion?
Also, Is a progressive wave also known as a traveling wave?

Sorry for the essay, but I really can't wrap my head around it.
Ash

ashsully said:
Hi everyone.
I'm currently studying waves in physics at the moment but I'm super confused and hoping someone could help me clear up some things. Firstly I'll post what I think it correct (I know it's wrong) and hopefully someone could pick up exactly where I am getting confused.

Waves are a periodic motion which flows from one place to another along a medium or empty space.
Waves have two categories:
1) Mechanical (requires a medium)
2) Electromagnetic (does not require a medium)

1) Mechanical waves have two subcategories depending on what direction the particles are displaced reference to the direction of energy transport.
i) Transverse Waves: Particles are displaced perpindicular to the direction of energy of transport.
ii) Longitudinal Waves: Particles are displaced parallel to the direction of energy of transport.

I can understand transverse and longitudinal wave examples. We got introduced to nodes & antinodes and I get the definitions of each and the difference between their respective displacements but this is the area where I'm getting confused. Do all transverse waves have antinodes and nodes?
I know that longitudinal waves have crests and troughs (compressions and rarefactions) so does that mean transverse waves have nodes and antinodes?
Nodes and antinodes are characteristics of standing waves only.
The antinode is where the value changes lots and the node is where it remains the same.

Now I'm also getting confused with progressive and standing waves.
From what I've read, I've heard that these are types of wave PATTERNS and not waves themselves. If so how would you know if you're going to experience a standing wave or a progressive wave in an object?
"Progressive" means "travelling".
To work out if you have a standing or progressive wave, you need to measure the displacement (say) wrt time for at least two places and look at the relationship.
i.e. if you have two toy boats tethered to two pylons at the warf ... and you see one boat bob up then down and right after that the next boat does the same - a ravelling wave probably just passed by... however if the boats go up and down in unison, just to different max heights, then they are on a standing wave.

We are currently doing pipes (Open & Closed) and Strings. But I'm confused why an open pipe column will have standing waves when it's open on both ends. Shouldn't the wave just continue from one end of the pipe to the other in an uninterrupted fashion?
That's one solution: where the air just blows in one end and out the other ... but, in that case, there were no oscillations to start with.

You can blow across the end of a pipe and get a noise even though both ends are open.
A flute is also a tube open at each end - there is a reed a short way inside that makes the oscillations.
Basically - the wave reflects off the sudden change in pressure at the ends of the pipe... some of the wave does escape.

Also, Is a progressive wave also known as a traveling wave?
Yes. And a standing wave is also known as a stationary wave.

Thanks for the reply!
You've cleared up 99% of my confusion, I just got 1 more question.

If you pluck a guitar string, it has it's fundamental frequency, with respective harmonics following it.
As a guitar string has nodes and anti-nodes, what is the relationship between harmonics and standing waves?
Is there a relationship?
I understand that there would be more nodes and antinodes when you increase up in harmonics (e.g., 3rd harmonic, 4th harmonic, 5th harmonic etc). But is a harmonic a standing wave or shouldn't you make a correlation between the two?

Cheers

Harmonics and standing waves are the same thing.

1. What are waves in physics?

Waves in physics are disturbances that transfer energy from one point to another without the transfer of matter. They can be described as a repeating pattern of motion that travels through a medium or space.

2. How do waves solve confusion in physics?

Waves help to solve confusion in physics by providing a mathematical and conceptual framework for understanding and describing various phenomena, such as sound, light, and electromagnetism. They allow us to analyze and predict the behavior of these phenomena in a systematic way.

3. What are the different types of waves in physics?

There are several types of waves in physics, including mechanical waves (such as sound and water waves) and electromagnetic waves (such as light and radio waves). Waves can also be classified as transverse or longitudinal, depending on the direction of the wave's oscillation relative to the direction of energy transfer.

4. How do waves interact with matter?

Waves interact with matter in various ways, depending on the type of wave and the properties of the medium it is traveling through. For example, sound waves require a medium to travel through, whereas electromagnetic waves can travel through a vacuum. When waves encounter an object, they can be reflected, refracted, diffracted, or absorbed, depending on the properties of the object and the wave.

5. How are waves measured in physics?

Waves are measured using various units, depending on the type of wave and the specific property being measured. For example, the amplitude of a sound wave is measured in decibels, while the frequency of an electromagnetic wave is measured in hertz. Other important measurements for waves include wavelength, period, and speed.

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