How to Find the Maximum Velocity of a Transverse Wave

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Transverse waves oscillate up and down, perpendicular to the direction of wave travel. The velocity of a transverse wave can be calculated using a combination of measured characteristics and mathematics. Transverse waves have important real world applications in the scientific and medical fields. Transverse waves include the compression waves produced by an earthquake that allow seismologists to pinpoint the epicenter and magnitude of an earthquake. Doctors use a kind of transverse wave called a high frequency sound wave to view internal organs and help diagnose diseases.

  • Determine the period (T) in seconds that it takes for the wave to make one oscillation by counting the number of seconds it takes for the wave to travel from one peak to the next adjacent peak.

  • Calculate the angular frequency (w) using the following equation:

    w = (2 * pi) / T

    Angular frequency will be in units of inverse seconds.

  • Determine the amplitude (A) in meters. The amplitude is the vertical distance between the center line of the oscillating wave and the peak or the trough.

  • Multiply the amplitude (A) by the angular frequency (w) to calculate the maximum velocity of the transverse wave. The maximum velocity is in units of meters per second.

    v max = A * w

  • Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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