Physics

The Physics Philes, lesson 107: The Subjective Side of Physics

The Physics Philes, lesson 107: The Subjective Side of Physics

We’ve been riding waves for a while now, and last week we dove head-long into sound waves. Sound is particularly interesting, I think, because it’s really easy to illustrate how physics informs how our bodies react to external stimuli. What you hear when you hear a sound is directly related to the sound wave’s physical characteristics. The greater the pressure amplitude (the maxi... »

The Physics Philes, lesson 106: The Sound of Physics

The Physics Philes, lesson 106: The Sound of Physics

We’ve just spent basically forever getting our hands dirty with mechanical waves. Now it’s time to get our hands even dirtier with a specific type of mechanical wave: the sound wave. Sound waves are something most of us are familiar with. The general definition of sound is actually quite simple. Sound is just a longitudinal wave in a medium. Sound waves can travel though anything ̵... »

The Physics Philes, lesson 105: Physics Makes Beautiful Music

The Physics Philes, lesson 105: Physics Makes Beautiful Music

Over these past several weeks, we’ve learned a lot about mechanical waves. However, what we’ve learned is a simple version of the waves we come in contact with every day. For example, the sound string instruments make are complex standing waves. To illustrate this, let’s think about what would happen if a string vibrated at one frequency. If we displace a string so the shape it m... »

The Physics Philes, lesson 104: Standing O for Standing Waves

The Physics Philes, lesson 104: Standing O for Standing Waves

Now that we have nodes, antinodes, and standing waves under our belt, it’s time to move on to something called normal modes. But wait. Let’s step back a bit. As we were learning about standing waves, we didn’t care so much about the length of the string or what was happening on the free end of the string. But now we need to think about a string of a finite length that is held fix... »

The Physics Philes, lesson 103: Of Nodes and Anitnodes

The Physics Philes, lesson 103: Of Nodes and Anitnodes

Last week we looked at what happens when a wave pulse is reflected off a barrier. But what happens when a sinusoidal wave on a string is reflected? That’s our topic today as we discuss standing waves on a string. In order to do this, we need to use a concept we learned last week called the principle of superposition. To jog your memory, the principle of superposition basically says that we c... »

The Physics Philes, lesson 102: Reflections

The Physics Philes, lesson 102: Reflections

We’ve been talking about waves for a while now. But we’ve been assuming that waves will just travel in one direction forever. That’s not very realistic, is it? In real life, waves are bouncing all over the place. They are hitting the boundaries of their mediums, reflecting back, and interfering with each other. Even if you’ve never thought about waves in these terms, I bet ... »

The Physics Philes, lesson 101: Wave Energy and Intensity

The Physics Philes, lesson 101: Wave Energy and Intensity

Over the past several weeks we’ve learned a lot about waves. We’ve learned what waves are, we’ve learned about wave functions, and we’ve learned how to find the velocity and acceleration of particles in a wave. But, if you’re like me, you may be wondering about the energy of a wave. I mean, the energy released by the waves we see in real life can be incredibly destruc... »

The Physics Philes, lesson 100: Need for Wave Speed II

The Physics Philes, lesson 100: Need for Wave Speed II

Oh my goodness. Has it been a week already? Let’s see, where were we? Oh that’s right. Last week we started talking about how to find the speed of a transverse wave on a string. The first method was fairly straight forward. Now it’s time to move on to the second method, which is a little more tricky. Here’s what we can do to find the wave speed of a wave on a string. We can... »

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