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# Mechanical wave motion - Transverse and Longitudinal wave motion

The two types of mechanical wave motion are (i) transverse wave motion and (ii) longitudinal wave motion

Mechanical wave motion

The two types of mechanical wave motion are (i) transverse wave motion and (ii) longitudinal wave motion

(i) Transverse wave motion

Transverse wave motion is that wave motion in which particles of the medium execute SHM about their mean positions in a direction perpendicular to the direction of propagation of the wave. Such waves are called transverse waves. Examples of transverse waves are waves produced by plucked strings of veena, sitar or violin and electromagnetic waves. Transverse waves travel in the form of crests and troughs. The maximum displacement of the particle in the positive direction i.e. above its mean position is called crest and maximum displacement of the particle in the negative direction i.e below its mean position is called trough. Thus if ABCDEFG is a transverse wave, the points B and F are crests while D is trough (Fig. ).

For the propagation of transverse

waves, the medium must possess force of cohesion and volume elasticity. Since gases and liquids do not have rigidity (cohesion), transverse waves

cannot be produced in gases and liquids. Transverse waves can be produced in solids and surfaces of liquids only.

(ii) Longitudinal wave motion

?Longitudinal wave motion is that wave motion in which each particle of the medium executes simple harmonic motion about its mean position along the direction of propagation of the wave.?

Sound waves in fluids (liquids and gases) are examples of longitudinal wave. When a longitudinal wave travels through a medium, it produces compressions and rarefactions.

In the case of a spiral spring, whose one end is tied to a hook of a wall and the other end is moved forward and backward, the coils of the spring vibrate about their original position along the length of the spring and longitudinal waves propagate through the spring (Fig.).

The regions where the coils are closer are said to be in the state of compression, while the regions where the coils are farther are said to be in the state of rarefaction.

When we strike a tuning fork on a rubber pad, the prongs of the tuning fork begin to vibrate to and fro about their mean positions. When the prong A moves outwards to A1, it compresses the layer of air in its neighbourhood. As the compressed layer moves forward it compresses the next layer and a wave of compression passes through air. But when the prong moves inwards to A2, the particles of the medium which moved to the right, now move backward to the left due to elasticity of air. This gives rise to rarefaction.

Thus a longitudinal wave is characterised by the formation of compressions and rarefactions following each other.

Longitudinal waves can be produced in all types of material medium, solids, liquids and gases. The density and pressure of the medium in the region of compression are more than that in the region of rarefaction.

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