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Oscillations and waves

In this topic we look at:

  • oscillations of bodies that move back and forth periodically
  • progressive waves that transfer energy and information through space
  • the interference effects of these progressive waves, and other phenomena
  • standing waves, where waves combine to become stationary (and therefore transferring no energy at all)

You will learn about simple harmonic motion, dispersion and guitar string frequencies, and be able to answer the following questions:

  1. How does a force that is proportional to displacement result in an oscillation?
  2. Are all oscillations simple harmonic?
  3. What is the connection between oscillations and waves?
  4. Are waves really made of an infinite number of wavelets?

  • Oscillations

    There are many oscillating systems we could investigate but we will start with the simple pendulum. Simple means the swings are small and the string is inelastic. Worth remembering this when doing practical work.

  • Waves

    If you line up a lot of pendulums and start them swinging at different times you get a wave pattern, this leads to our mathematical model of all waves.