Wave Motion - Key terms


The maximum displacement of particles in oscillation from their normal position. For an ocean wave, amplitude is the distance from either the crest or the trough to the level that the ocean would maintain if it were perfectly still.


The ability to perform work, which is the exertion of force over a givendistance. Work is the product of force and distance, where force and distance are exerted in the same direction.


The number of waves passing through a given point during the interval of one second. The higher the frequency, the shorter the wavelength. Frequency can also be mathematically related to wave speed and period.


The repeated movement of a particle about a position of equilibrium, or balance.


A unit for measuring frequency, equal to one cycle per second. If a sound wave has a frequency of 20,000 Hz, this means that 20,000 waves are passing through a given point during the interval of one second. Higher frequencies are expressed in terms of kilohertz (kHz; 10 3 or 1,000 cycles per second) or megahertz (MHz; 10 6 or 1 million cycles per second).


The energy that an object possesses due to its motion, as with a sled when sliding down a hill. This is contrasted with potential energy.


A wave in which the movement of vibration is in the same direction as the wave itself. This is contrasted to a transverse wave.


Physical substance that has mass; occupies space; is composed of atoms; and is ultimately convertible to energy.


A type of wave that involves matter. Ocean waves are mechanical waves; so, too, are the waves produced by pulling a string. The matter itself may move in place, but, as with all types of wave motion, there is no net movement of matter—only of energy.


A type of harmonic motion, typically periodic, in one or more dimensions.


For wave motion, a period is the amount of time required to complete one full cycle of the wave, from trough to crest and back to trough. Period can be mathematically related to frequency, wavelength, and wave speed.


Motion that is repeated at regular intervals. These intervals are known as periods.


A wave in which a uniform series of crests and troughs follow one after the other in regular succession. By contrast, the wave produced by applying a pulse to a stretched string does not follow regular, repeated patterns.


The energy that an object possesses due to its position, as for instance with a sled at the top of a hill. This is contrasted with kinetic energy.


An isolated, non-periodic disturbance that takes place in wave motion of a type other than that of a periodic wave.


A type of transverse wave produced by causing vibrations on a string or other piece of material whose ends are fixed in place.


A wave that exhibits the behavior of both a transverse wave and a longitudinal wave.


A wave in which the vibration or motion is perpendicular to the direction in which the wave is moving. This is contrasted to a longitudinal wave.


The distance between a crest and the adjacent crest, or the trough and an adjacent trough, of a wave. Wavelength, abbreviated λ (the Greek letter lambda) is mathematically related to wave speed, period, and frequency.


Activity that carries energy from one place to another without actually moving any matter.

User Contributions:

Asante Hayford
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Nov 13, 2016 @ 12:12 pm
why is it that the page didn't display the formulars and equations
Prince Moses
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Aug 15, 2018 @ 5:05 am
This a very interesting and educative site, i would request if you can be sending me more questions or anything concerning physics
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Mar 30, 2019 @ 2:02 am
This cite gives clear understanding of wave optics

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