Facts about Waves

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Waves are a kind of disturbance flowing via a material or substance in the form of energy. An interesting example of waves is sound waves, ocean waves etc. The substance or material carrying a wave is called medium. The Medium is made up of many particles; these particles displace and interact with each other allowing the disturbance to pass through them this is called oscillation.


This property of the waves to transport only the energy, leaving the matter undisturbed, from one end of the medium to the other differentiates a wave from other physical phenomenon.


The frequency of a wave describes the displacement or vibration, a particle experiences within a medium when a wave passes through it.


The period of a wave is that time taken by a particle in a medium to complete one vibration.


The speed of a wave is the time taken by a given point on the wave in a given period of time.


A wave is described by its length (L), height (H), period (T) and speed (S).


The waves are classified into three different types based on the particles movement with the flow of energy.

  • Longitudinal waves: In this kind of waves the movement of particles in the medium is in parallel to the motion of the energy. Eg: Sound waves
  • Transverse waves: When the movement of particles is perpendicular to the motion of energy. Eg: movement of waves through a solid object
  • Surface waves: The particles move in a circular fashion and the next wave occurs at an interface. Eg: ripples in a cup of water.


An ocean current is the continuous flow of ocean water. These may feature either on the surface or within the deeper depths of the ocean. When they occur over the surface they fall under the influence of the direction of the blowing wind. Deep currents are caused by various factors like salinity, density and temperature changes.

The rotation of the Earth also plays a vital role in forming the ocean currents and this effect is called Coriolis Effect. Other reasons could be the gravitational pull by the moon and the sun.


We love the ocean owing to the presence of its waves or tides as we call it. The physics behind the formation of ocean waves lies with the moving wind over the surface of the water. The simple logic here is that the energy from the wind is transferred to the water by the friction created between the air molecules and the water molecules. The tallest ocean wave was formed in Alaska and was 1720 ft tall.


A swell is a series of low rounded waves that originates at the interface between the air and the water by a distance weather system such as a storm and spreads across the ocean. These are also known as surface gravity waves.


When a body of water is bounded partially it forms a standing wave called as seiches.  These phenomenons are observed in lakes, reservoirs, swimming pools and bays etc.


Tsunamis are seismic sea waves generated by the disturbances emanated from the ocean floor. These are known to cause heave catastrophe clubbed with loss of life and property.

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