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# What is the difference between transverse and a longitudinal wave?

Transverse Waves: Displacement of the medium is perpendicular to the direction of propagation of the wave. To understand this it is good to think of a rope being held still by person B and being moved up and down by person A. The direction of propagation is from person A to B, so you will see the waves move along this way. But the displacement will be up and down. Longitudinal Waves: Displacement of the medium is parallel to the direction of propagation of the wave. A good example for this is a slinky being pushed along the table, the propagation will be along the table and so will the displacement of all the 'rings'.

Ryan Lai
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11.8k students helped

Longitudinal Waves: A wave where displacement/oscillation (of particles) is parallel to the direction of energy transfer. a. Example: Sound waves Longitudinal waves have areas of compression and rarefaction: A compression is a region in a longitudinal wave where the particles are closest together. A rarefaction is a region in a longitudinal wave where the particles are furthest apart. Transverse Waves: A wave where displacement/oscillation (of particles) is perpendicular to the direction of energy transfer. Examples: surface water waves, waves on a string, electromagnetic waves.

Suhayl Patel
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