UKPCS Science: Mechanical Waves #12

Oracle IAS, the best coaching institute for UPSC/IAS/PCS preparation in Dehradun brings to you UKPCS Science (paper #6).

A mechanical wave is a wave that is an oscillation of matter, and therefore transfers energy through a medium. While waves can move over long distances, the movement of the medium of transmission—the material—is limited. Therefore, the oscillating material does not move far from its initial equilibrium position. Mechanical waves transport energy. This energy propagates in the same direction as the wave.

A mechanical wave is a wave that is not capable of transmitting its energy through a vacuum.

There are three types of mechanical waves: transverse waves, longitudinal waves, and surface waves.

  • Transverse waves cause the medium to vibrate at a right angle to the direction of the wave or energy being carried by the medium. Transverse waves have two parts—the crest and the trough. The crest is the highest point of the wave and the trough is the lowest. The distance between a crest and a trough is half of wavelength. The wavelength is the distance from crest to crest or from trough to trough. Egs Light.
  • Longitudinal waves cause the medium to vibrate parallel to the direction of the wave. It consists of multiple compressions and rarefactions egs sound
  • Surface Waves: This type of wave travels along a surface that is between two media. An example of a surface wave would be waves in a pool.


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