Introduction

We are exposed to different types of waves everyday. Radio waves, microwaves, and UV waves are just a few of the unseen ones. But of course when we experience visible light, we are perceiving color in the form of a wave's wavelength and frequency. When we experience audible sound, it's the wave's wavelength and frequency we perceive. Waves are all around us, in many frequencies and wavelengths. Some are safe, and some are very dangerous. They help us communicate globally and cook. They can kill cancer or cause it. So what do waves look like?

Transverse Wave Parts

Transverse waves look like a roller coaster track. Periods of hills and valleys traveling in a straight line. The shape of a transverse wave looks like hills and valleys because it travels perpendicularly to the force applied.

Crest
The highest part of a transverse wave is the crest. The top of the crest is the point the furtherest away from the resting place.

Trough
The lowest part of a transverse wave is the trough. The bottom of the trough is the point furtherest away from the resting place.

Wavelength
The distance from one crest to the next or from one trough to the next is a transverse wave's wavelength. If the crests or troughs get closer together, the wavelength becomes smaller. If the crests or troughs get further apart, the wavelength become larger.

Amplitude
Amplitude is the distance from the resting place to the crest or trough. If you were looking at a roller coaster, then you would agree that the highest hill has more amplitude than the lowest hill.

Resting Point
The resting place is considered the spot where the wave begins disturbing the medium.

For practice on learning the parts of a transverse wave, visit this page

Longitudinal Wave Parts

Longitudinal waves look like Slinkies. They look like they bunch up then spread out as they travel. This is because they travel parallel to the force.

Compression
Compressions are the compressed part of the wave. Once a force is applied, the energy is transferred in the same direction causing the compression of the medium.

Rarefaction
Rarefactions are the spread out part of the wave. As the wave travels through the medium, it will alternate the compression with the rarefaction

Wavelength
The wavelength of a longitudinal wave is measured from compression to compression or rarefaction to rarefaction. In other words, you measure the length of the wave by one complete cycle of the compression and the rarefaction right next to it.

For practice on learning the parts of a longitudinal wave, visit this page