What are some examples of transverse waves?

1 Answer
Dec 28, 2014

Tranverse waves are waves in which there is a change that is perpendicular to the direction of propagation.

Simplest example is.... waves. If you throw a pebble in a pool of water, two things happen: the water moves up and down, while the effect (the ripple) moves outward.
Other examples are strings or drum-skins. These are called 'standing' waves, because they don't expand from the string or skin.
Most important example is any form of electro-magnetic radiation, where the electric and magnetic fields interchange perpendicular to the direction of propagation.

Opposite to transverse waves are longitudinal waves. These show only changes in the direction of travel. Most obious example is sound waves, where pressure differences are given through from one part of the medium (e.g. air) to the next.
In a string or drum skin transverse waves are 'translated' to longitinal waves in air, which are then 'translated' to tranverse standing waves on our eardrums. Via a system of tiny bones these are again translated into longitutinal waves in the fluid of our inner ear, that will make tiny nerve-ends react to sound.