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    Hi, I was going through the Jan 2009 paper as revision&preparation for my unit 2 exam coming and part (c) of question 12 confused me. The question shows a diagram of the wave's shape. It also says that the wave is "travelling to the right". Does this mean that the water is travelling to the left; otherwise I do not understand why the water would be travelling directly down at point Y.


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    In a wave like this, the water only moves up and down. The wave itself travels sideways (in this case, to the right). You can see this yourself - fill a bathtub with water, and place a few objects on the water (bath toys like rubber ducks, or anything that will float). Now gently move your hand up and down at one end of the bath. You make ripples - waves - that move away from your hand. But as they pass the floating objects, the objects move up and down, not "along" with the waves.

    (OK, I know that in practice it is not that simple, but this is a model that works well at this level.)

    Nice animation of this here.
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    (Original post by Pangol)
    In a wave like this, the water only moves up and down. The wave itself travels sideways (in this case, to the right). You can see this yourself - fill a bathtub with water, and place a few objects on the water (bath toys like rubber ducks, or anything that will float). Now gently move your hand up and down at one end of the bath. You make ripples - waves - that move away from your hand. But as they pass the floating objects, the objects move up and down, not "along" with the waves.

    (OK, I know that in practice it is not that simple, but this is a model that works well at this level.)

    Nice animation of this here.
    Thank you sooooo much. That was actually really clear and I now get it. I wish my Physics teacher explained it like this... 😔


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    This is an important fundamental concept with waves. A wave like this - where the oscillations that cause the wave are at right angles to the direction of motion of the wave - is called transverse. Examples are water waves and electromagnetic waves. A wave where the oscillations that cause the wave are in the same direction as the motion of the wave is called longitudinal. An example is sound.

    That site I linked to is great for stuff like this - I would explore it if I were you!
 
 
 
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