Types of Waves | Science

October 22, 2015 thetasctest

Types of Waves | Science

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word wave? Perhaps it’s an ocean wave. Maybe it’s the vision of someone waving their hand back and forth signaling a hello or goodbye. Or did you picture the microwave in your kitchen?

Today we will discuss scientific waves that impact the wave types imagined above. At a basic level, waves are disturbances that transfer energy through a medium. Different types of waves exhibit specific characteristics.

In preparation for the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™ Science subtest, we will focus on the three main types of scientific waves. But first, do you know why waves are important to study?

Importance of Waves

Waves are everywhere in nature and impact our lives every second of the day. Think of it this way: Every sound you hear, every movement of the trees blown by the wind, and every particle of light that reaches our eyes is caused by waves. Furthermore, earthquakes and tidal waves are created from waves occurring beneath the Earth’s surface.

A wave is either transverse, longitudinal, or surface. Let’s take a deeper look at each type:
 

Transverse Waves

Transverse waves move perpendicular to the motion of energy. Movement through a solid object like a trampoline is an example of a transverse wave.


Image via PreMedHQ.com.


Longitudinal Waves

Longitudinal waves move parallel to the motion of energy. Sound waves moving through air are an example of longitudinal waves.
 

Surface Waves

Surface waves travel in a circular motion. Ocean waves and ripples in a cup of water are two examples of surface waves.



Image via Utah Electronic High School


Visit PhysicsClassroom.com to see an animated representation of how these three waves move.

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