Transverse vs. Longitudinal Waves

  1. Apr 18, 2009 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    Please explain the difference and try to give examples. I know that the displacement of the medium in a transverse wave is perpendicular to the direction of wave travel and in longitudinal is parallel to the direction of wave travel, but does this mean that transverse waves only travel from left to right?

    2. Relevant equations
    Conceptual question

    3. The attempt at a solution

    I've stated what I know above, and what I'm confused about. Please help.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 18, 2009 #2
    I was going to write out the definitions and some examples, but I'll be lazy and just link you to wikipedia, because they seem to handle this question quite well.

    Transverse waves: consists of 'particles' moving perpendicular to the direction the energy is moving in ("transverse wave is moving in the positive x-direction, its oscillations are in up and down directions that lie in the y-z plane"). Examples: light waves or moving a string up and down.

    Longitudinal Wave: the 'particles' are moving parallel to the direction of energy. Examples: sound

    Water waves are both transverse and longitudinal.

    This sight has some nice pictures too:
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