Waves Carry Energy, Not Matter


From Bite Size Physics– http://www.bitesizephysics.com/energywaveslesso.html

Here’s rule one when it comes to waves….the waves move, the particles don’t. The wave moves from place to place. The wave carries the energy from place to place. The particles however, stay put.

Here’s a couple of examples to keep in mind. If you’ve ever seen a crowd of people do the “wave” in the stands of a sporting event you may have noticed that the people only “vibrated” up and down. They did not move along the wave. The wave, however, moved through the stands.

Another example, would be a duck floating on a wavy lake. The duck is moving up and down (vibrating) just like the water particles but he is not moving with the waves. The waves move but the particles don’t. When I talk to you, the vibrating air molecules that made the sound in my mouth do not travel across the room into your ears. (Which is especially handy if I’ve just eaten an onion sandwich!) The energy from my mouth is moved, by waves, across the room. Waves are energy-mobiles.pete

Videos Show It

  • Flow of Energy Not Matter in Transverse Waves– https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LyxLxx3xifo
  • Waves on the Surface Water https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yPTa8qi5X8  The waves on the surface of the water are neither longitudinal nor transverse. We can see in animation that red ball, which simulates the molecule of the water surface, moves in a circle path. So, the wave on the water surface is the superposition of transverse and longitudinal motions of the molecules.

Websites Explain It


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