What is the difference between longlitudinal waves and transverse waves
also what does it mean when a wave is polarised ?
Mechanical Waves vs Electromagnetic Waves: What are the Differences?
There are many types of wave and although they all have things in common there are also behaviours and characteristics that can distinguish them from each other. For example, we could look at the direction of travel of the wave in relation to the movement of the particles of the medium they are travelling through which would allow us to categorise waves into 3 categories such as transverse waves, longitudinal waves, and surface waves. Or we could look at the waves ability or inability to transmit energy through a vacuum? This leads us to 2 notable categories of waves, mechanical and electromagnetic.
Mechanical vs Electromagnetic Waves
- Electromagnetic waves can travel through a vacuum, that is an empty space, whereas mechanical waves cannot. They need a medium to travel such as water or air. Ripples in a pond are an example of mechanical waves whereas electromagnetic waves include light and radio signals, which can travel through the vacuum of space.
- Mechanical waves can be classed as elastic waves because their transmission depends on the medium's (water, air etc.) elastic properties.
- Electromagnetic waves are caused because of the varying magnetic and electric fields. They are produced by the vibration of the charged particles.
- Because of these differences, the speed of each type of wave varies significantly. Electromagnetic waves travel at the speed of light but mechanical waves are far slower.
- Electromagnetic waves are called a disturbance, and mechanical waves are known as a periodic disturbance.