What are Waves?

A wave transmits information or energy from one point to another in the form of signals, but no material object makes this journey. The frequency of a wave is obtained by including a factor of time in the mix. We are completely dependent on waves for all of our wireless communications.

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For example, you make a call to your friend in another city with your mobile phone, the entire communication is happening via audio but the entire process of transmission of a signal from the talker to the receiver occurs as a waveform. The phone converts your voice into an electrical signal which then propagates either through copper wires or through antennae in wireless communication.

Wave is a flow or transfer of energy in the form of oscillation through a medium – space or mass. Sea waves or tides, a sound which we hear, a photon of light travelling and even the movement of small plants blown by the wind are all examples of different types of waves. A simple wave illustration is as follows.


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Electromagnetic Wave

One interesting property here is that unlike mechanical waves, electromagnetic waves do not need a medium to travel. All electromagnetic waves travel through a vacuum at the same speed, 299,792,458 ms-1.Following are the different types of electromagnetic waves:

MicrowavesX-rayRadio wavesUltraviolet waves

Learn more about Sound waves here.

Difference Between Mechanical Wave and Non-Mechanical Wave


Mechanical Waves vs Non-Mechanical WavesMechanical WaveNon-Mechanical Wave
Mechanical waves are waves that need a medium for propagation.Non-mechanical waves are waves that do not need a medium for propagation.
Sound waves, water waves and seismic waves are some examples of mechanical waves.The electromagnetic wave is the only non-mechanical wave.
Mechanical waves cannot travel through vacuumNon-mechanical waves can travel through vacuum

Matter Wave

This concept is a little complicated to understand. The dual nature of matter; its ability to exist both as a particle and a wave was first brought to light by the founders of the field of Quantum Physics.

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