Physics 20 Resources


home button

everyday button

light button

optics button

waves button

sound button

heat button

faq button

credits button

glossary button



Wave Terms

amplitude - the distance from rest position or equilibrium to the crest or trough of a wave.

angle of incidence - the angle formed between an incident wave and a normal.

angle of reflection - the angle formed between a reflected wave and a normal.

antinodes (loops) - double crests and double troughs in a standing wave.

compressions - the region in a longitudinal wave where particles are closer together then normal.

constructive interference - two crests or two troughs interfere to produce a resultant displacement greater than the displacement by either wave itself.

crest - the top of a transverse wave.

cycle - one complete oscillation or vibration of a wave.

destructive interference - a wave and a crest interfere to produce a resultant displacement less than the displacement by either wave itself.

diffraction - the bending of waves around an object or through an opening.

electromagnetic waves - disturbances made up of electric and magnetic fields that do not require a medium for travel.

frequency - the number of oscillations or vibrations per second.

interference - two or more waves acting simultaneously on the same particles of a medium.

longitudinal waves - waves such as sound where the particles move or vibrate parallel to the direction of the wave.

mechanical waves - disturbances that require a medium for travel.

nodes - points in a standing wave where the positive and negative pulses cancel each other resulting in areas of rest (no movement).

period - the time required to complete one cycle.

periodic waves - regular, repeated waves.

principal focus - the point at which waves converge at when reflecting from a concave or parabolic barrier.

pulse - a single wave movement.

rarefaction - the region between compressions in a longitudinal wave.

refraction - the changing of direction in waves as they pass from one medium to another. The change in direction is accompanied by a change in speed and wavelength.

standing wave - reflected waves from the end of a medium interfering with incident waves so that specific points appear to be standing still.

surface waves - a combination of transverse and longitudinal waves at the surface of water.

transverse waves - waves such as water or slinky waves where the particles in the medium move or vibrate perpendicular to the direction of the wave.

trough - the bottom of a transverse wave.

wave - the transfer of energy in the form of a disturbance.

wavelength - the distance from crest to crest, trough to trough, or other equivalent distance in a wave.

Top of Page

[Back to previous page]