Physlets run in a Java-enabled browser on the latest Windows & Mac operating systems.
If Physlets do not run, click here for help on updating Java and setting Java security.
Physlet® Physics 2E: Waves
Chapter 16: Periodic Motion
Any motion that repeats (think of a position vs. time graph), no matter how complex, is called periodic. This type of motion is important to study since many natural systems are periodic.
When the cause of motion is a linear restoring force, the periodic motion is particularly simple and is called simple harmonic motion. This motion has the remarkable property that the period of oscillation is independent of the amplitude of the motion.
Complicated periodic motion is rather remarkable as well, but for a different reason. Complicated periodic motion can always be described in terms of a sum of sines and/or cosines. This is Fourier's theorem.
Chapter 17: Waves and Oscillations
We have just considered general oscillatory behavior. We noticed that the common theme was that the motion could be described as periodic. We now consider a different type of periodic or oscillatory motion called wave motion. We begin with waves traveling in one dimension, but we will then consider waves in two and three dimensions, such as sound, in the next chapter.
Chapter 18: Sound
We have just considered general wave behavior in one-dimension. However, most waves propagate in two and three dimensions. The added complexity comes with an added richness of phenomena that we can describe. This includes sound waves and the phenomena of interference, beats, and the Doppler effect.