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Introduction to Waves - Study Question Solutions


A plastic ball on a pool is bobbing up and down. The ball moves a total of 8 cm from its
highest point to its lowest point.
a) What is the amplitude of the wave?
(4 cm)
Amplitude is measured from the rest position. The top of the crest to the bottom of
the trough is double this distance. Divide the 8 cm in half.
b) Is the wave beneath the ball best described as a pulse or a continuous wave? Explain.
Continuous. It is a series of waves at regular intervals.


You are creating transverse waves on a spring by shaking your hand back and forth.
a) How could you increase the wavelength without changing the amplitude?
To keep the amplitude the same, you must move your hand the same distance side
to side. To change the wavelength, you must shake at a faster of slower rate
(change the frequency); in this case, a lower frequency would crate a longer wave.
b) How could you increase the amplitude without changing the wavelength?
This is the opposite of a). Keep the frequency the same, move the hand further.


Would the answer you gave for #2 apply to longitudinal waves? What would change?
Same answer, except shaking of the hand would be parallel with the springs length.


Sketch of a transverse wave and label the wavelength at at least three different locations.
See PW1-1a. Wavelengths are between any two consecutive parts that are the same any two consecutive parts that are in phase. (E.g. Top of crest to top of next crest,
trough to trough, front edge of crest to same point on the next crest, etc.)


What is the difference between a transverse and a longitudinal wave.

Transverse - disturbance is perpendicular to the direction the wave travels,
Longitudinal - disturbance is parallel to the direction. (Note: watch the language. The
disturbance is relative to the direction of travel, not the medium. Eg. Sound waves in
air are longitudinal; they are parallel to the direction - the medium has no direction.)


Sketch two longitudinal waves, one with a visibly higher amplitude.

The higher amplitude wave has denser compressions (vertical lines closer together),
and less dense rarefactions (lines further apart).


You are holding a metal bar in your hand and you hit it on the end with a hammer, first in
the same direction as the length and second at right angles to the length. What is the
difference between the two wave pulses that are produced?
Same direction is longitudinal (disturbance is parallel), right angle is transverse.


In question #7, does the waves energy travel through the medium or carry the medium
itself along? Give an example of another real life wave where you can observe this.
Energy travels through - the metal in the bar is not carried along. This is true of all
waves, so any real life wave works. (Eg. Sound waves in air dont produce sound
wind carrying the air along.) Note: water waves are surface waves they move in
circles so they move in, then move back when they come to shore. The flow is not
continuous towards the shore. This messes up many students.