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What exactly is the difference between frequency and period?

  1. Oct 23, 2010 #1
    I am on the "sound" chapter in my Conceptual Physics class but I just wanted to know the best way to explain in layterm: what is the difference between frequency and period?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 23, 2010 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    They are inverses of each other.
  4. Oct 23, 2010 #3
    To elaborate:

    Frequency is the number of occurrences of a repeating event per unit time. It is also referred to as temporal frequency. The period is the duration of one cycle in a repeating event, so the period is the reciprocal of the frequency. Loosely speaking, 1 year is the period of the Earth's orbit around the Sun,[1] and the Earth's rotation on its axis has a frequency of 1 rotation per day.[2]

    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frequency
  5. Oct 24, 2010 #4
    I suggest you make a habit of paying special attention to the units of new physical quantities you meet.
    Very often looking at these helps understand what the quantity is measuring.
    You may have to look beyond the modern trend to replace descriptive units with the names of dead scientists.


    Frequency is measured in Hertz ( a dead scientist) but originally in cycles per second and is the number of repeats of the wave or oscillation per second.

    Period is the measured in seconds and is the number of seconds it takes said oscillation to repeat.
  6. Oct 24, 2010 #5


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    Dearly Missed

    That's so gross..

    Couldn't you just leave his remains alone, rather than "measuring" things in him???
  7. Oct 24, 2010 #6


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    Staff: Mentor

    Think of frequency as "cycles per second" and the period as "seconds per cycle". Or substitute any other time unit that's more convenient for the purpose at hand.
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