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901-A: Electromagnetic vs. Mechanical Waves 1

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901-A: Electromagnetic vs. Mechanical Waves 1

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Definitions of Waves

An oscillation is when an object moves in a repeating pattern. It does not travel, but ends up in the same place again and again. Another name for oscillation is harmonic motion.

A wave is a moving oscillation. Energy moves in waves.

There are two large categories of waves: mechanical waves and electromagnetic waves.

A mechanical wave consists of a moving oscillation through matter (solid, liquid, or gas). It could be oscillating water molecules, oscillating air molecules, oscillating ropes and slinkies, or oscillating particles in rocks. If actual particles, things you can touch, are oscillating, it is a mechanical wave.

A electromagnetic wave consists of oscillating electric and magnetic energy. No physical thing that you can feel or touch is moving. It is only energy moving.

  1. What do we call the motion of an object back and forth in a repeating patter?
  2. A wave is a _________ oscillation.
  3. What type of wave consists of moving oscillations in matter?
  4. What type of wave consists of oscillations of electric and magnetic energy?
  5. An oscillation in air would be what type of wave?

Examples of Waves

The most important example of a mechanical wave is a sound wave. But it is not the only mechanical wave!

The most important example of an electromagnetic wave is a visible light wave. But is it is not the only example of an electromagnetic wave!

For each wave, write what kind of wave it is, electromagnetic or mechanical.

  1. A light wave
  2. A sound wave
  3. A seismic wave
  4. A water wave
  5. A radio wave

The 7 Electromagnetic Waves

There are seven types of electromagnetic wave. You should remember them in this order:

There is a very easy way to help you remember these waves:

Ranging Martians Invade Venus Using X-Ray Guns

Radio Micro Infrared Visible Ultraviolet X-Ray Gamma

Image of a raging martian invading venus using an X-ray gun:

  1. Raging ________ invade _________ using _________ guns.
  2. List the seven types of electromagnetic wave in order.

Problems

For each example of a waves, indicate if they are electromagnetic waves or a mechanical waves.

  1. Water Waves
  2. Light Waves
  3. Sound Waves
  4. Seismic (earthquake) waves
  5. Radio Waves
  6. X-Ray Waves
  7. Ultraviolet Waves
  8. Ultrasonic Waves
  9. Gamma Rays
  10. Microwaves
  11. Waves in a rope
  12. Waves in a guitar string
  13. Infrared Waves

Answers:

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