Traveling Waves

Slinky Wave Cradle

Longitudinal wave demo with suspended slinky.

What it shows:

Demonstration of longitudinal traveling waves in a spring. 

How it works:

The Slinky hangs with a bifilar suspension from a rigid thin-walled electrical conduit frame, which is light, strong and cheap. In total, 23 suspension points run the length of the spring; the cord is a thick cotton thread that attaches to a loop of the Slinky with No.10 fishing swivels. The layout of the Slinky and frame are shown in figure 1, but the thread has been...

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Wooden Dowel Wave Machine

Large (20 feet long) Shive wave machine that can clearly show the reflection and transmission of a pulse at the boundary of fast and slow media.

What it shows:

Being so large (20 feet long), transverse traveling waves on this apparatus are easily seen by a large audience. The propagation speed of the waves is much slower than on the Shive Wave Machine, giving the audience time to process what's going on. The apparatus can be used to show three properties of waves: (1) wave speed is inversely proportional to the square root of the medium's inertia, (2) waves traveling from a...

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Shive Wave Machine

Rods attached to metal spine; transverse wave generator shows the reflection of waves free, fixed, terminated and transition boundaries.

What it shows

Mechanical demonstration of transverse standing or traveling waves using the Shive wave machine.

How it works

The Shive wave machine consists of a series of horizontal metal rods 1.25 cm apart coupled by a torsion wire. A pulse can be sent down the machine by displacing the end rods (when doing this by hand, pull down on more than one rod as the connections are delicate and do break). The far...

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