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Physics LibreTexts

5.1: Wave Speed

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  • There are two different speeds involved with describing a wave. In previous chapters we saw that the individual points on a wave oscillate (up and down for transverse waves, back and forth for longitudinal waves) with simple harmonic motion, just like masses on springs. But the up and down speed of a point on a transverse wave doesn't tell us how fast the wave moves from one place to the next. The wave speed, v, is how fast the wave travels and is determined by the properties of the medium.

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