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Waves/Elastic Medium

  1. Aug 13, 2008 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    Two vibrating sources emit waves in the same elastic medium.

    2. Problem

    This is just the beginning part of a question that goes into detail about speed, reflection, refraction, and angles of incidence. All of which I understand, but as usual, the easiest part of the problem is creating a huge mind block for me. I do not understand the exact definition of an elastic medium or medium, and if two sources are in it, how do they affect each other?

    3. Attempt at solution

    I think a 'medium' refers to the general area that the waves travel through, but then if there are two different waves in the area are they overlapping or acting independently?
    My assumption is that the two waves act independently, but would be traveling at the same speed until they interact with another barrier.

    Thank you in advance to anyone whom can help.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 13, 2008 #2


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    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    A wave is a traveling deformation of the elastic medium. You generally assume the deformations are small enough the waves can be treated independently. So they don't interact. If two waves meet they will just pass through each other and the total deformation is the sum of the two deformations (I.e. it's linear). In some systems this isn't a valid approximation, like nonlinear optics. Much harder subject.
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