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Transverse Wave Definition

A transverse wave moves up and down motion. For example, ocean waves are transverse, showing peaks and troughs.

View Lesson on Wave Properties
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Wave Properties

Fun Facts

  • "The wave" at a sporting event is an example of a transverse wave.
  • Adding energy increases the height of a transverse wave's amplitude.
  • The greater the energy, the closer transverse waves are together due to a shorter wavelength.

Why Do We Need To Know About

Learning about transverse waves helps us understand natural events and why they’re important in different jobs. Think of ocean waves or the wave people do at sports games – these are examples of transverse waves. Knowing about them can help you if you want to work in marine biology or environmental science.

Also, knowing about transverse waves helps us deal with nature better. For example, it is important to know that waves transfer energy from place to place, not matter. An object in a wave does not travel, it only moves up and down.  So, if you’re into boating or swimming, understanding waves is very useful.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do waves transfer matter?
Waves transfer energy, not matter.
When Zoe and Izzy demonstrated waves using the slinky, which type of wave did they observe?
Zoe and Izzy use the spring to demonstrate both transverse and longitudinal waves. Water waves are transverse waves and sound waves are longitudinal waves.
Why does the salt vibrate on the speaker when the music is turned on?
When the music is turned on sound waves cause the salt to vibrate just like sound waves cause air particles to vibrate.
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