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  • Writer's pictureTerence Pang

O Level Physics 2017 Paper 2 Question 5 - solving a challenging wave question

Many students have given feedback that they were stumped by this question so we decided to go through it and record the step-by-step process.

This is based on the Ten Year Series Questions for O Level Physics. To approach this question, it would be best to draw the wave of the string at t=0 and possible positions of A and B. To determine the possible positions of A and B, look for the displacement at t=0. From here, determine the distance as a fraction of the wavelength and then you'll be able to solve using the wave equation.

Hope this helps!

Basics of O Level Physics for Transverse Wave Motion

If you're feeling stumped from watching the video and find it difficult to understand, here are some basics to refresh your memory:

Transverse wave motion is a type of wave where the motion of the medium is perpendicular to the direction of the wave. This means that the elements of the medium (such as particles in a solid, liquid, or gas) move up and down or side to side relative to the direction the wave is traveling.

Definition of Transverse Waves:

  • Transverse waves are characterized by oscillations or vibrations that occur perpendicular to the direction of energy transfer or wave propagation.

Why Strings Are Transverse Waves:

  • In the case of a string, when it is plucked or disturbed, the disturbance travels along the length of the string. However, the displacement of the points on the string is perpendicular to the length of the string. This is why the waves on a string are considered transverse waves.

Displacement in Transverse Waves:

  • Displacement refers to the distance and direction from the equilibrium position (the position where the particle would be when not disturbed) to the position of a particle in the medium. In transverse waves, this displacement is perpendicular to the direction of wave propagation.

Wavelength in Transverse Waves:

  • Wavelength is a fundamental characteristic of a wave and is defined as the distance between two consecutive points that are in phase. In simpler terms, it is the length of one complete wave cycle, such as the distance from crest to crest or trough to trough in a transverse wave.

Wave Equations:

  • Basic Wave Equation: The speed of a wave (v) is the product of its frequency (f) and wavelength (λ): v=fλ This equation connects the speed of a wave with its wavelength and frequency.

These concepts are fundamental in understanding the behavior of transverse waves, which are prevalent in various forms of waves, including electromagnetic waves, waves on strings, and certain seismic waves. These concepts form the basis for learning wave mechanics and are essential for students studying physics or related fields.

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