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mechanical waves

need a medium on which to travel

transverse waves

particles of the medium vibrate perpendicular to the motion of the wave

longitudinal waves

particles of the medium move parallel to the direction of the wave

water wave

combination of transverse and longitudinal

electromagnetic wave

doesn't need a medium, travel at the speed of light in a vacuum

matter wave

solid which has wave properties

wave pulse

a single bump or disturbance

periodic wave/traveling wave

wave which continues to move


distance from the equilibrium position


top of the wave


bottom of the wave


distance during which motion repeats itself


time it takes for one complete vibration


number of cycles per second

incident wave

incoming wave that strikes the boundary

reflected wave

returning wave

inverted wave

upside down

reflected wave is upright

if a wave travels from a more dense to a less dense medium..

reflected wave is inverted

if a wave travels from a less dense to a more dense medium..

law of reflection

angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection


changing direction of the wave at the boundary between two different mediums


bending of waves around a barrier

total internal reflection

only occurs when wave going from a more dense to a less dense medium

critical angle

refracted ray lies right along boundary between mediums. Angle of refraction = 90 degrees

total internal reflection

any incidence angle above the critical angle


reflected sound waves




difference in pitch

Principle of Super Position

algebraic sum of the displacements caused by individual waves


result of superposition

constructive interference

resulting wave has a larger amplitude

destructive interference

resulting wave has a smaller amplitude

standing waves

a pattern which results from the interference of two or more waves traveling the same medium. always characterized by an alternating pattern of nodes and antinodes


result of the meeting of a crest with a trough. leads to points of zero amplitude


positions along the medium where there are points of maximum amplitude due to a crest meeting a crest or a trough meeting a trough


imaginary line perpendicular to the boundary

Snell's Law

mathematical equation which relates the indices of refraction and angles for a light ray traveling from one medium to another

incident ray

incoming light ray

refracted ray is bent away from the normal

if light travels form a more optically dense to a less optically dense medium

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