Difference Between Longitudinal and Transverse Wave

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Longitudinal and Transverse Waves

A wave that generally is a disturbance that propagates the energy from one place to another without transporting any matter. For example,  stone hitting the surface of the water creates ripples that travel in a shape of concentric circles with its radius increasing until they strike the boundary of the pond. 

The brand new way to categorize waves is on the basis of the direction of movement of the individual particles of the medium which are basically relative to the direction that the waves travel. Here, we will discover more about the waves and their formats. The waves categorised on this basis leads to three notable categories that are the transverse waves and then the longitudinal waves and third is the surface waves.

  • In a longitudinal wave, the medium or we can say that the channel moves in the direction which is the same with respect to the wave. Here we can say that the movement of the particles is from left to right and forces other particles to vibrate.

  • In a wave which is transverse, the medium or we can say that the channel moves perpendicular to the direction of the wave. Here we can say that the particles move down and up as the waves move horizontally.


Difference Between Longitudinal Wave and Transverse Wave

A transverse wave is a wave in which particles of the medium move in a direction which is perpendicular to the direction that the wave moves. Suppose that we see a slinky that is stretched out in a horizontal direction across the classroom and a pulse is introduced into the slinky which is on the left end by vibrating the first coil down and up. The energy will begin to be transported through the slinky from the direction which is from left to right. As the energy is said to be transported from left to right we can see that the individual coils of the medium will be displaced upwards and downwards. In this case, the particles of the medium move in a direction which is perpendicular to the direction that the pulse moves. This type of wave is a transverse wave. 

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A wave which is said to be a longitudinal wave is a wave in which particles of the medium move in a direction which is parallel to the direction that the wave moves. In this case, the particles which are of the medium move parallel to the direction that the pulse moves. This type of wave is a longitudinal wave. The longitudinal waves are always said to be characterized by particles that are in motion parallel to wave motion. 

The speaker to the ear of a listener - the particles of air vibrate back and forth in the same direction and then we can say that in the direction which is opposite of energy transport. Each individual particle pushes on its neighbouring particle so as to push it forward. The collision of particle 1 with its neighbour serves to restore particle 1 to its position which is original and displace particle 2 in a direction which is forward. 

Longitudinal waves can always be quickly identified by the presence of such regions. This whole process continues along the particle chain until the waves of sound that reach the ear of the listener. 


Propagation of Longitudinal and Transverse Waves

The waves travelling through a medium which is solid can be either a wave which is transverse or longitudinal waves. Yet the waves that are travelling through the bulk of a fluid that is such as a gas or a liquid are always longitudinal waves. The waves which are transverse require relatively a medium which is rigid in order to transmit their own energy.

In a longitudinal wave propagation, one particle generally begins to move must be able to exert a pull on its nearest neighbour. If we notice here, the medium is not rigid as is the case with fluids, that is the particles will slide past each other. This sliding action is the characteristic of liquids and gases that generally prevents one particle from displacing its neighbour in a direction which is perpendicular to the energy transport. It is for this reason that only the waves which are longitudinal are observed moving through the bulk of liquids such as our oceans. 

The earthquakes or disasters are capable of producing both transverse and longitudinal waves that travel through the solid structures of the Earth. When the seismologists began to study the disaster or earthquake waves they noticed that only longitudinal waves were capable of travelling through the core of the Earth. For this reason, geologists believe that the earth's core that basically consists of a liquid that is most likely molten iron.


FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is the difference between a transverse wave and a longitudinal wave for kids?

Transverse waves are waves where the disturbance moves perpendicular to the direction of the wave. The waves which are longitudinal are the waves where the disturbance moves in the same direction as that of the wave.

2. Explain what is the main difference between a longitudinal wave and a transverse wave?

A wave is said to be a transverse if the direction of the particles of the medium is perpendicular to the direction as that of the wave. A wave is longitudinal if the direction of the particles of the medium is in a direction which is the same as that of the wave.

3. Is light wave longitudinal or transverse?

In transverse waves,  the motion of all points on a wave oscillate along paths at right angles to the direction of the wave's advance. Ripples on water, the seismic waves and electromagnetic waves - that is radio and light waves are examples of transverse waves.

4. What is a longitudinal wave?

Longitudinal wave consists of a periodic disturbance or the vibration that takes place in the direction which is the same as the advance of the wave. A sound that is moving through the air compresses and rarefies the gas that is in the direction of travel of the sound wave as they vibrate back and forth.

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