Oscillation vs Wave
Oscillations and waves are two major phenomena discussed in physics. The concepts of waves and oscillations are widely used in many fields and are vital in the understanding of the world. In this article, we are going to discuss what oscillations and waves are, applications of waves and oscillations, the connection between waves and oscillations, their similarities, and finally the difference between waves and oscillations.
Oscillations are a type of periodic motion. An oscillation is usually defined as a repetitive variation over time. The oscillation can occur over a middle equilibrium point or between two states. A pendulum is a good example for an oscillatory motion. The oscillations are mostly sinusoidal. An alternating current is also a good example for this. In the simple pendulum, the bob oscillates over the middle equilibrium point. In an alternating current, the electrons oscillate inside the closed circuit over an equilibrium point.
There are three types of oscillations. The first type is the un-damped oscillations in which the internal energy of the oscillation remains a constant. The second type of oscillations is the damped oscillations. In damped oscillations, the internal energy of the oscillation decreases over time. The third type is the forced oscillations. In forced oscillations, a force is applied on the pendulum in a periodic variation to the pendulum.
A mechanical wave is caused by any turbulence in a medium. Simple examples for mechanical waves are sound, earthquakes, ocean waves. A wave is a method of energy propagation. The energy created in the turbulence is propagated by the waves.
A sinusoidal wave is a wave which oscillates according to the equation y = A sin (ωt – kx). As the wave propagates through the space, energy it carries is also propagated. This energy causes the particles on its way to oscillate. It can also be interpreted the other way around as the energy is propagated through the oscillation of particles.
There are two types of progressive waves; namely, longitudinal waves and transverse waves. In a longitudinal wave, the oscillations of particles are parallel to the direction of propagation. This does not mean the particles are moving with the wave. The particles only oscillate about fixed equilibrium point in space. In transverse waves, the oscillation of particles occurs perpendicular to the direction of propagation. Sound waves consist of only longitudinal waves, waves on a string is transverse. The ocean waves are a combination of transverse waves and longitudinal waves.
What is the difference between Waves and Oscillations?
- Oscillation is a periodic movement of a particle or a system that can cause a wave. A wave is created by an oscillation either mechanically or electromagnetically.
- An oscillation can occur due to a wave too.
- An oscillation is a phenomenon that is localized to a certain region whereas a wave is a phenomenon that travels.
- An oscillation may or may not conserve the internal energy. A wave is created by the emitted energy from an oscillation.