Friday, October 22, 2021


A whole section of the subject of physics is about understanding the transport of energy from one place to another. After many years of studies and research in the field of waves and oscillations, people have now started to use their work in tuning fork level switches, remote controls, radio, mobile phones, etc. 




When an object moves rapidly, to and fro on its position, it is said to be oscillating. Oscillatory motion is generally confused with vibration but these two are very different from each other. 


Vibration is when an object moves rapidly in short strokes while oscillation can even be a circular motion. Any motion that repeats itself after a certain period is known to be oscillations. 


The main difference between a regular periodic motion and oscillations is that in oscillatory motion, some part of the path taken by the object repeats during its periodic time. 




Waves are simply just disturbances that carry energy from a source to other points. Waves can travel with or without a medium and are of various types but are always characterized by numerous particles oscillating in synchronization. 


When particles of the medium or even force vectors in case of electromagnetic waves oscillate in synchronization, generally characterized by a specific mathematical equation, disturbance or energy can be transported from one point to another. This is called a wave. 


When a wave travels through a medium, only energy transport occurs while the particles of the medium remain situated at their own positions, only performing to and fro oscillatory motion. In the case of no medium, energy transports without the synchronized motion of the particles.


Some characteristics of all waves are the time period, that is the time after which a whole cycle of motion repeats itself, the amplitude is the maximum displacement of the particles from their original position or the mean position, the wavelength is the length in the direction of motion of the wave after which the whole cycle repeats itself. 



There are mainly two types of waves depending upon the direction of motion of the particle of the medium or the force vectors in case there is no medium:


  1. TRANSVERSE WAVES: these types of waves are signified by the perpendicular motion of the medium particles to the direction of the motion of the wave.


  1. LONGITUDINAL WAVES: in these waves, the particles oscillate in the direction of motion of the wave itself but do not displace too much from their mean positions. 



A very common phenomenon that almost all of us have experienced is sound. A sound is a form of disturbance caused by the oscillating or vibrating motion of the source particles. It is a longitudinal waveform in which the medium particles oscillate parallel to the direction of the motion of the wave itself. 



There has been a lot of research on the nature of light. Earlier people used to think that it was a wave but it seemed impossible for waves to travel in vacuum-like light travels from the sun and the distant stars. 


Later people found the real nature of light and concluded that light behaves both as a particle and as a wave. It shows characteristics of waves like time period etc. but also properties of particles like the quantum nature. 


Now people know that light behaves as electromagnetic waves. It is a transverse form of a wave in which the force vectors of electric field and magnetic field oscillate perpendicular to the direction of propagation of light. 


Electromagnetic waves are a broad spectrum of waves characterized by their different wavelengths and time periods, that can travel through a vacuum without the need for medium particles.



There are various applications of waves and oscillations in our daily life like tuning fork level switches, use of acoustic walls in halls and auditoriums that work on a phenomenon called resonance, Doppler effect is observed in the case of light as well as sound waves. 


This is when we hear a sound source moving away from us and moving towards us, the frequency of the sound changes, and similar things are observed in the case of light also. The use of electromagnetic waves in daily lives is speeding up these days. Radio waves are responsible for the working of radios and many remotes. 


We can control and communicate with satellites in space using electromagnetic waves, the mobile phone and the internet also work using electromagnetic waves, dismissing the need for using cables and microwaves also use electromagnetic waves for cooking our food. 

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