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Let's say initially one of the shocks (shock 1) is ahead of the other (shock 2), but shock 2 is faster than shock 1, so eventually shock 2 will catch up to #1. What happens when they catch up? Do they become one shock?

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In summary: That's a great question. The combined speed would be the sum of the speeds of the two shocks, which would be 2+1m/s.

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Let's say initially one of the shocks (shock 1) is ahead of the other (shock 2), but shock 2 is faster than shock 1, so eventually shock 2 will catch up to #1. What happens when they catch up? Do they become one shock?

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http://www.physicsclassroom.com/class/waves/Lesson-3/Interference-of-Waves

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The problem with just talking about interference is that superposition only works for linear phenomena. Shock waves are, by their very definition, nonlinear, so simple superposition does not hold like that. Instead what would happen (if I recall correctly) is that the second shock would catch the first and the two would essentially merge into a new, stronger shock. After all, the first shock had a pressure ratio of ##p_2/p_1## and the second shock would have a pressure ratio of ##p_3/p_2## when it gets close to the first shock, so right when they touch, the ratio across the combined shock would then be ##p_3/p_1##. This simply represents a stronger shock.

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A shock wave is a type of propagating disturbance that travels through a medium at supersonic speeds, causing a sudden and drastic change in pressure, temperature, and density. It is typically generated by a sudden release of energy, such as an explosion or a high-speed object moving through the medium.

When two shock waves collide, they interact with each other and produce complex patterns of compression, rarefaction, and reflection. The resulting behavior depends on the strength, speed, and direction of the shock waves, as well as the properties of the medium they are traveling through.

In theory, it is possible for shock waves to cancel each other out if they have equal strength and are traveling in opposite directions. However, in practice, it is difficult to achieve perfect cancellation due to various factors such as shock wave interference and energy dissipation.

If one shock wave is significantly faster than the other, it will overtake and compress the slower shock wave. The resulting shock wave will be a combination of the two original shock waves, with a higher amplitude and a more complex structure.

Scientists use various experimental and computational techniques, such as high-speed photography and numerical simulations, to observe and analyze the collision of shock waves. These methods allow them to capture detailed information about the shock wave behavior, such as pressure and temperature changes, and study the underlying physical processes involved.

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