The Different types of Waves

There room two species of waves: mechanical waves favor sound that need to travel with a medium like air, and electromagnetic waves prefer light the don’t. Both species of waves transfer energy in a wave-like manner, together that is what a tide is, a physics effect of energy being moved over space and time.

You are watching: Similarities between mechanical and electromagnetic waves

On this page, we explain the different types of waves, the difference in between sound waves and light waves, and the distinction between mechanical tide and electromagnetic waves. I indicate this video for a intuitive overview.

Mechanical and Electromagnetic Waves. Sound is a mechanical wave; that method it need to travel with a medium. Light is electromagnetic radiation propagating in a wave-like manner; it can travel v empty room or a medium.

Summary of the difference Between Mechanical Waves and also Electromagnetic Waves

In general:

Electromagnetic waves define the wave-like path in i beg your pardon photons (and various other quanta) travel. Electromagnetic waves can travel through a medium like air, passing v it or reflecting off it’s molecules, but they don’t have to. Electromagnetic waves space made out of energy and also can travel unimpeded through empty space.

Other Categorizations the Waves

Waves can additionally be divided into three categories based upon the direction of their movement:

Transverse waves travel perpendicular to wave motion.Longitudinal waves travel parallel to tide motion.Surface waves travel in a circular movement on the surface ar of a medium.


Classic waves are continuous.

Beyond this, there are some other means to categorize waves prefer a cresting surface ar wave, but this is sufficient to recognize the basics the waves and wave-like movement. If we take into consideration waves broadly, we have the right to say that all forms of power are transferred by tide (see forms of energy).<1><2>

Traveling Waves: Crash food Physics #17. A video clip is discussing waves the nature of different types of waves.

FACT: In almost all instances light travels faster than sound, yet not always. See instances where sound have the right to travel faster than light.

TIP: The transport of electromagnetic force is the photon. The photon tote electromagnetic radiation. Irradiate is a details wavelength in the electromagnetic spectrum, and also so room radio waves, X-rays, and some other recognizable waves. The photon is one of the primary structure blocks of matter; sound is an effect of objects made out of matter.Aa mechanical tide displaces particles while an electromagnetic tide is chin particles (see the standard design of fragment physics for a closer look at photons).

What room Mechanical Waves?

Mechanical waves choose sound are pressure traveling from a source, v a solid, liquid, gas, or plasma, medium, distorting the medium’s molecules.

For example, a sound tide traveling through the waiting displaces wait molecules, leading to them come vibrate and also collide with other air molecule at a given frequency as the tide travels with the medium. The molecules bounce ago in place; for every force there is an equal and also opposite force. The result is molecules vibrating ago and soon parallel to the source. This is true because that gasses and also liquids, however not because that a denser matter, check out Longitudinal Waves, Transverse Waves, and also Circular Waves ar below.

A water molecule doesn’t take trip from one ar to one more with the wave, the tide travels v the water if the molecule bounce earlier into place. The wave of pressure created from the source of the sound travels with the medium until that reaches ours ears, us hear the vibrating of molecule at details frequencies together sound via our feeling of hearing (click that connect to recognize the person senses, it is vital to knowledge waves).

TIP: there is no sound particle, a sound is an result that displaces molecules made that particles. Most waves the aren’t quantum waves prefer light space mechanical waves consisting of ocean waves and also gravitational tide as much as we know.

TIP: You have the right to use electromagnetic energy to measure up all particles, therefore you deserve to think of electromagnetic waves as being like electricity and also mechanical waves as being like gravity. One is a thing; the other is an effect. Both carry energy.

What room Electromagnetic Waves?

Electromagnetic waves explain the wave-like way in which photons (and various other quanta) travel. Electromagnetic waves can travel v a tool like air, yet they don’t have to. When they do, they travel in between air molecules and also have their take trip slowed accordingly. Even though photons have the right to bounce off some mediums or be slowed down, the doesn’t affect the medium straight like the concussive nature of sound.

Electromagnetic waves travel with the vacuum of empty space and are massless. Thus, lock don’t directly affect objects with mass. “The rate of light” is a hatchet that explains electromagnetic energy traveling at it’s constant and only speed in a true vacuum return it can slow down in a non-vacuum once it does connect with the medium.

TIP: just objects v mass can affect objects through mass. A photon have the right to only include to the mass of a device by being took in by the system.

TIP: Electromagnetic energy is brought by a particle, the photon. The photon doesn’t displace other molecules to produce a wave, the photon itself propagates in a wave-like manner.

FACT: This way that in room no one can hear friend scream, but they deserve to see you shine a flashlight.

7.1.3 Mechanical and also Electromagnetic Waves.

The major Differences in between Mechanical Waves and also Electromagnetic Waves

Given the above, the differences in between mechanical waves like sound and electromagnetic waves like light are:

Mechanical waves have to travel through something, electromagnetic and waves don’t.Mechanical waves aren’t made the end of anything. They space the disruption of a medium. Similar to a wave in water, the wave is pressure displacing water; that isn’t itself a thing. There is no widget, simply an effect. Electromagnetic waves, on the other hand, are made out of something, electromagnetic energy. There are just four pressures in the universe. The most necessary by many measures is electromagnetic energy.

Longitudinal Waves, Transverse Waves, and Surface Waves

Mechanical waves can propagate as longitudinal waves, transverse waves, or surface waves, but electromagnetic waves have the right to only propagate together transverse waves. Understanding the means in i beg your pardon a wave have the right to travel is vital for knowledge the difference in between sound and also light.

Most mechanical waves, including sound, are “longitudinal waves” or a tide in which the corpuscle of the medium move in a direction parallel come the direction that the tide moves. When sound displaces molecule in the air, they press forward in the direction of the wave, bump into the following molecule, and also then bounce ago into ar in the contrary direction because the tool is elastic enough and also for every force, over there is a equal and opposite force. The result is corpuscle moving ago and forth parallel come the direction of the wave.

Light waves are constantly “transverse waves” or a wave in which corpuscle of the medium move in a direction perpendicular to the direction the the wave moves.

Meanwhile, the waves that show up on the surface ar of a medium are surface waves, they room sometimes dubbed circular waves due to the fact that in surface ar waves only the corpuscle at the surface of the medium undergo circular activity that is a mix of transverse and longitudinal motion. Water has actually surface waves on that is surface, and longitudinal tide in its currents. Over there is no rigid surface in water, for this reason there space no longitudinal waves. There are also elliptical surface waves called Raleigh surface waves.<3>

Some mechanical waves can act as much more than one wave type. Earthquakes are capable of developing both transverse waves that travel v the less dense parts the the Earth, prefer water and the molten core, and longitudinal waves that travel through the denser parts the the Earth, like rock. Transverse waves need a fairly rigid medium to transmit their power while longitudinal waves need a more elastic medium.

See Transverse & Longitudinal Waves: an interpretation & examples Chapter 8 / great 3 Transcript. View a visual of Longitudinal and Transverse wave Motion.

Physics class – 40 – Transverse and Longitudinal Waves.

The Difference in between Sound Waves and Light Waves

Other important differences in between sound waves and light tide include:

With sound waves, frequency tells you about the pitch, and also amplitude gives you information around the volume. V light, amplitude gives you information around intensity, and frequency tells you about wave type or color.Sound travels faster in most solids 보다 it walk in air, light frequently slows down or shows off solids.

FACT: If we consider the Grand merged Theory, which unifies every force but gravity in ~ the start of the large bang, we space left v little an ext than electromagnetic energy to explain the universe. This is why the concept that “we live in the Matrix” is no off the table.

The Similarities in between Mechanical Waves and Electromagnetic Waves

Some similarities between mechanical waves choose sound and also electromagnetic waves like light are:

Both wave species are characterized by their frequency. The higher the frequency, the less distance in between successive crests of a tide (aka wavelength). We can only hear and also see tide in a particular frequency; we can only hear and see specific wavelengths.Both types of waves have the right to reflect and amplify under the appropriate conditions.

Classic tide Versus Quantum Waves

A classic wave is a continuous wave; a quantum wave exists in an suspicion of superpositions (more than one location at once) till it quantizes.

Classic waves are associated with mechanical waves, and also travel with something and quantum waves don’t have to.

All the elementary particles exist as quantum areas (which act favor quantum waves, learn an ext about quantum ar theory and also the photon). Results like sound and gravitational waves, that travel v mediums made the end of Quanta. All issue is do of Quanta. Quanta is an additional word for quantum particles, quantum particles make up molecules and also act like classic waves.

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Mechanical tide resulting from pressure, choose gravitational and also sound waves, are continuous and also consistent. Favor if friend hit a north head and also see the head ripple.Electromagnetic energy is a quantum wave, if we think about a single photon (the carrier of electromagnetic energy) we deserve to say: The photon is an electromagnetic field, propagated in a unidirectional wave-like manner, that exhibits quantized measurable excited power states we call particles. Till we measure up the ar of a photon, it exists in uncertainty. Once we measure it, the quantizes to a details excited state in orders of the Planck constant.

ALL tide ARE developed BY particles OF issue IN call WITH EACH other MECHANICAL IN NATURE.ELECTROMAGNETIC (and LIGHT). THEY are MADE through PLANCK SIZE matter OSCILLATING at FREQUENCIES for this reason HIGH and also PARTICLES SOOO SMALL. THEY can not BE detected BY any SENSOR well-known TO MAN. THEY space IN continuous CONTACT with EACH OTHER and also AS any type of MATTER IT causes WAVES when EXCITED BY any type of FORCE. AETHER, NEWTON’S CORPUSCLES and also GRAVITY turn A PLANCK length PARTICLE fills THE BILL. Waves ARE produced BY particles OF WATER, AIR, every SOLIDS, LIQUIDS, and GASES, also A irreversible WAVE. IF friend LOOK AT images OF GALAXIES YOU have the right to SEE castle BY THE boost IN density BY THE bordering GRAVITY. .THIS AETHER TRAVELS with ITS MASS. THE size OF THE FIELDS about THE INDIVISIBLE particles VARIES with THE PRESSURE however THEY always MAINTAIN call SO THE speed OF THE MODULATING SIGNAL TRAVELS approximately EACH bit REMAINS constant AS THE DISTANCE alters WITH PRESSURE