When you’re at the beach, enjoying the ocean surf, you’re experiencing a wave motion. Ripples on a pond, musical sounds we can hear, other sounds we can’t hear, the wiggles of a Slinky TM stretched out on the floor-all these are wave phenomena. Waves can occur whenever a system is disturbed from its equilibrium position and when the disturbance
can travel or propagate from one region of the system to another. Sound, light, ocean waves, radio and television transmission, and earthquakes are all wave phenomena. Waves are important in all branches of physical and biological science; indeed, the wave concept is one of the most important unifying threads running through the entire fabric of the natural sciences.
This chapter and the next two are about mechanical waves, waves that travel within some material called a medium. We’ll begin by deriving the c equations for describing waves, including the important special f periodic waves in which the pattern of the wave repeats itself as propagates, Chapter 20 deals with what happens when two or _ the same space, giving rise to interference, and scummed with a particularly important type of mechanical called are mechanical in nature. Another broad class is es including light, radio waves, infrared and ultraviolet ora) . and gamma rays. No medium is needed for they can travel through empty space. Yet another class is the wavelike behavior of atomic and subatomic behavior forms part of the foundation of quantum mechanic- -c theory that is used for-the analysis of atomic and molecular . We will return to electromagnetic waves in later chapters. we can learn the essential language of waves in the context of mechanical waves.