A wave is a disturbance that propagates, transporting energy without the displacement of matter. Waves can be classified according to the medium in which they occur, the movement of the wave, its propagation, and its periodicity.
What are waves?
They are a disturbance that propagates from one point to another, transporting energy but not matter. According to this concept, waves are classified according to the movement of their particles, propagation, the medium in which they propagate, and their periodicity.
Waves alter some property of the space where they propagate, be it pressure or magnetic field.
They are made up of different elements:
Amplitude: The highest point of separation, taking as reference the lowest point of the wave.
Length: It is the distance between two crests.
Frequency: It is the number of times the wave is duplicated.
Period: It is the time it takes to reach a crest starting from another.
Types of waves
There are several types of waves that can be identified depending on the characteristics and conditions of the environment. According to a series of criteria, waves can be classified to facilitate their conceptualization and the way to understand them.
According to the movement of the particles
Transverse waves: These are those in which the particles vibrate perpendicular to the direction in which the wave propagates. An example of this is light.
Longitudinal waves: These are those in which the particles vibrate in the same direction in which the wave propagates. An example of this is sound.
Depending on the medium in which they spread
Mechanical waves: These are those that require an elastic medium , whether liquid, solid or gaseous, to propagate . An example of this is the waves of the sea.
Electromagnetic waves: These are waves that do not require an elastic medium to propagate, that is, they can propagate in a vacuum . They occur as a consequence of two effects, a variable magnetic field that produces a magnetic field or a variable magnetic field that produces an electric field.
They are composed of electrical charges accelerated by sources of electromagnetic radiation and over time they modify their speed of movement.
- An example of this is radio waves.
Gravitational waves: These are those that can alter the geometry of space and time . It is common to represent them traveling in a vacuum. They can occur between two stars that revolve around each other.
According to the spread
One-dimensional waves: These are those that propagate in only one direction . An example of this could be the vibration of a string.
Two-dimensional or surface waves: These are waves that can propagate in two directions. You can observe them in the waves of the sea.
Three-dimensional or spherical waves: These are waves that propagate in three directions . An example of this is light and sound.
Depending on the periodicity
Periodic waves: They are a type of wave produced by repetitive cycles of disturbances. An example of this is sound waves.
Non-periodic waves: They are produced by an isolated disturbance. An example is the waves of a seismograph.