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WAVES
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What is a Wave?
A mechanical wave is a disturbance in a medium which moves through the medium thus transferring energy from one place to another.  
   
Examples include, waves on the surface of a liquid, waves on stretched wires/strings, sounds waves  
   
Electro-magnetic radiations like light, x-rays, radio waves etc, have wave-like properties but do not need a medium to travel through. See here for more detail.  
   
All waves can be put into one of two categories, transverse or longitudinal.  
This distinction is illustrated below, considering two different ways of sending a wave along a long stretched spring, for example, a "slinky" spring.  
   
Transverse Waves  

 
The medium through which the wave is moving is the spring.  
The direction of motion of the wave (direction of propagation) is at 90 to the direction of the disturbance (or displacement) of the medium.  
   
Longitudinal Waves  
 
c - compression
e - expansion (or rarefaction)
 
Again, the medium through which the wave is moving is the spring.  
However, in this case, the direction of propagation of the wave is parallel to the direction of the disturbance .  
Sound waves are longitudinal waves.  
   
The velocity of propagation of a wave depends on the properties of the medium through which it moves.  
For example, the tension in the spring and the mass per unit length of the spring determine how fast waves travel along it.  
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