About This Chapter
Waves Overview - Chapter Summary
This online chapter can teach you about transverse and longitudinal waves, as well as factors that affect the speed of sound. Our brief video lessons also can introduce you to the seven major regions of the electromagnetic spectrum and show you the difference between constructive and destructive interference. Some of the additional topics you'll encounter in this chapter on waves include the following:
- The origin, spectrum and color frequency of light
- Reflection: angle of incidence and curved surfaces
- Resonance: definition and transmission of waves
- Transparent and opaque materials in electromagnetic waves
- White light and reflection and absorption of color
- Refraction and dispersion: Snell's law and the index of refraction
- Diffraction: relation to sound and light and effects on wavelength
- The Doppler effect
- Wave-particle duality
- Wave parameters: wavelength, amplitude, period, frequency and speed
To get the most from this chapter on waves, take advantage of all three components of each lesson: the video, the transcript and the self-assessment quiz. The videos feature tags that can take you to their main points if you just need a quick review, while many of the transcripts feature links to some of our other articles if you desire a more in-depth study option. Finally, take the self-assessment quizzes to show you where you've mastered the material and where you could use a bit more study time.
1. Vibrations and Waves: Energy and Motion
What is a wave? What causes waves, and how do they travel from one place to another? This lesson will guide you through the basics of waves. We'll discuss their origins from vibrations and investigate how they carry energy through a medium.
2. Transverse & Longitudinal Waves: Definition & Examples
What comes to mind when you think of a wave? Chances are your mental image takes the form of a transverse wave. But, longitudinal waves are just as important, and understanding the difference is vital to learning about waves. In this lesson, explore both types of waves and the unique characteristics of each.
3. What is Sound? - Definition and Factors Affecting the Speed of Sound
Explore the minute workings of sound waves and how they travel. We'll discuss the main factors that affect the speed of sound waves, and we'll try some mathematical problems involving the wave equation.
4. Electromagnetic Waves: Definition, Sources & Properties
In this lesson, learn the basics of electromagnetic waves and how they make up the electromagnetic spectrum. We will explore the major trends and categories within the spectrum, as well as the various sources of electromagnetic waves.
5. The 7 Major Regions of the Electromagnetic Spectrum
This lesson will walk you through each of the major regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. Explore the unique characteristics of X-rays, microwaves, radio waves, UV rays, infrared, gamma rays, and of course, visible light.
6. The Nature of Light: Origin, Spectrum & Color Frequency
This lesson introduces the basics of visible light and color. Learn how the visible light spectrum is divided into the six color ranges. We'll also discuss why different people name colors in different ways.
7. Reflection: Angle of Incidence and Curved Surfaces
How do waves reflect off of surfaces? How do we account for the images that we see reflected in various objects? Discover the answers to these questions as we investigate the rays and angles defining the law of reflection.
8. Resonance: Definition & Transmission of Waves
This lesson describes how sound and light waves are affected by the principle of resonance. Learn how resonance occurs through the vibrations and resonant frequencies of objects. You'll investigate everyday examples of resonance and learn how to break a wine glass with your voice!
9. Transparent and Opaque Materials in Electromagnetic Waves
What makes an object transparent or opaque? How does light pass through some objects and not others? And what about the other types of electromagnetic waves? We'll investigate all these questions in this lesson about the transparency and opacity of materials.
10. Color: White Light, Reflection & Absorption
What gives color to objects? How do light waves interact with materials to produce red and green or white and black? In this lesson, learn how white light is composed of all colors and how absorption and reflection influence our color perception.
11. Refraction & Dispersion: Definition, Snell's Law & Index of Refraction
Refraction explains why light bends in water. But, did you know that mathematical laws determine exactly how light waves are bent? In this lesson, we'll explore the mechanics of wave refraction, including Snell's Law and the index of refraction.
12. Diffraction: Relation to Sound & Light and Effects of Wavelength
This lesson explores diffraction as one of the many behaviors of waves. Learn how diffraction occurs in sound and light waves and how it is affected by the wavelength of a wave. Find out how animals use diffraction to communicate and how scientists use it to study molecules.
13. Constructive and Destructive Interference
What happens when one wave meets another? Do the waves converge to make one giant wave? Or, do they destroy each other? In this lesson, we'll explore the workings of wave interference.
14. The Doppler Effect: Definition, Examples & Applications
What is the Doppler effect? How does it affect our perceptions of sound and light? In this lesson, learn how traveling wave sources can change the way we observe sound and light waves. Explore the applications of the Doppler effect on shock waves, sonic booms, and the movements of distant galaxies.
15. Wave-Particle Duality: Concept, Explanation & Examples
Is light a particle with mass and substance? Or, is it just a wave traveling through space? Most scientists say light is both a particle and a wave! Find out how they came to this strange conclusion as we learn about the theory of wave-particle duality.
16. Wave Parameters: Wavelength, Amplitude, Period, Frequency & Speed
How do we measure and describe waves? How do waves differ based upon their shapes? This lesson will guide you through the five wave parameters - period, frequency, amplitude, wavelength, and speed - that we use to characterize waves.
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