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Q & A: Longitudinal and transverse waves

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Most recent answer: 02/05/2012
Q:
what is difference between longitudinal wave and electromagnetic wave?
- mustansar (age 18)
pakistan
A:
Waves can have several different forms.  These forms depend on the differential equations that describe the underlying physics.    For EM waves these are Maxwell's equations: the solutions are all transverse, i.e. the oscillating electric and magnetic fields point in directions perpendicular to the direction of travel.  For sound waves traveling in air the waves are compressional, i.e. the pressure fluctuations vary along the direction of travel.    In solid materials you can have both transverse and compressional sound waves. 

LeeH

(published on 02/05/2012)

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