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Chapter 15

Characteristics of Waves

TermDefinition
wave a disturbance that transfers energy from place to place
energy the ability to do work or cause change
medium the material through which a wave travels
mechanical waves a wave that requires a medium through which to travel
vibration a repeated back and forth or up and down motion
transverse wave a wave that moves the medium in a direction perpendicular to the direction in which the wave travels
crest the highest part of a transverse wave
trough the lowest part of a transverse wave
longitude wave a wave that moves a medium in a direction parallel to the direction in which the wave travels
compression the part of a longitudinal wave where the particles of the medium are close together
rarefaction the part of a longitudinal wave where the particles of the medium are far apart
amplitude the maximum distance the particles of a medium move away from their rest positions as a wave passes through the medium
wavelength the distance between two corresponding parts of a wave
frequency the number of complete waves that pass a given point in a certain amount of time
hertz unit of measurement for frequency
reflection the bouncing back of an object or wave when it hits a surface through which it cannot pass
law of reflection the rule that the angle of reflection equals the angle of incidence
refraction the bending of waves as they enter a new medium at an angle
diffraction the bending of waves as they move around a barrier or pass through an opening
interference the interaction between waves that meet
constructive interference the interference that occurs when waves combine to make a wave with a larger amplitude
destructive interference the interference that occurs when two waves combine to make a wave with a smaller amplitude
standing wave a wave that appears to stand in one place, even though it is really two waves interfering as they pass through each other
node a point of zero amplitude on a standing wave
antinode a point of maximum amplitude on a standing wave
resonance the increase in the amplitude of a vibration that occurs when external vibrations match an object’s natural frequency
seismic wave a wave produced by an earthquake
P wave a longitudinal seismic wave
S wave a transverse seismic wave
surface wave a combination of a longitudinal wave and a transverse wave that travels along the surface of a medium
tsunami wave a huge surface wave on the ocean caused by an underwater earthquake
seismograph an instrument used to detect and measure earthquake waves
Created by: KerriReynolds