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Wave collision

  1. Feb 7, 2005 #1
    Now this may sound kinda weird, but

    Suppose you stretch a Slinky (registrated trademark):
    On one side, you move your hand up and down once....one transverse wave, one wavelength...
    One the other side, your partner pushes forth a compression (one longitudinal wave, one wavelength

    What will happen when they meet? (collision between transverse and longitudnal)?

    Transverse waves--up and down; longitudinal, well, in the direction of wave travel, that is. Combining a forward vector from longitudinal, and the up or down vector from transverse, would I get a "diagonal" compression-stretch sequence...where the compression actually "travels" across the "up and down wave"??? Like, the compression travels right on but in the opposite direction of the transverse wave? Seems cool if it would be so.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 7, 2005 #2


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    First of all what you describe are transverse waves of different polarization. To get a longitudinal wave one person would have move the slinky in and out in a motion parallel to the direction the slinky is stretched. In the slinky you would see regions where the coils are close together alternating with regions where the coils are stretched. Remember in a longitudinal wave the compression of the media is in the direction of motion.

    As for your motion the waves would simply pass through each other, emerging from the meeting point only slightly changed. Needless to say the exact motion at the meeting point would be complex.
  4. Feb 7, 2005 #3
    Complex? In what way--just curious, why exactly complex?
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