Physics 120/130

Properties of Waves and Sound

QT movie of a collision between two carts.

I. Introduction

When a wave of sinusoidal shape travels through a medium, the relationship between speed v, frequency f and wavelength l is given by the simple equation

(1)

Waves having more complicated shapes may be built up by the superposition of simple sinusoidal waves of different frequencies and wavelengths.

 In this laboratory you will study the behavior of waves on a vibrating string and sound waves in air by producing standing waves in both media. You will also use the computer to display various wave forms and find their sinusoidal components by doing what is referred to as Fourier analysis of the waves.