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ZingPath: Wave Properties

The Effect of Medium on the Speed of Waves

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Wave Properties

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Lesson Focus

The Effect of Medium on the Speed of Waves


Learning Made Easy

You get to learn about the basic properties of waves. Check out a few of the factors that affect the speed of waves, and learn about the Doppler effect and the useful property of resonance.

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Now You Know

After completing this tutorial, you will be able to complete the following:

  • Explain that the speed of a wave varies according to the medium through which it travels.
  • Explain how the speed of a wave is affected by the vibration of particles making up the medium through which it travels.
  • Compare wave speed in different mediums: solid, liquid, and gas.
  • Explain the relationship between wavelength and wave speed.

Everything You'll Have Covered

Why do mechanical waves move more quickly through solids than through gases?

~ Mechanical waves move more quickly through solids than through gases because mechanical waves propagate with the vibrations of the particles they move through. Since particles in solids are more tightly bound together than the particles in gases, mechanical waves can propagate more quickly through solids.

Through which of the three common states of matter do electromagnetic waves move the fastest and why?

~ Electromagnetic waves move the fastest through gases. Since electromagnetic waves do not require a medium to pass through, they are faster in matter that has fewer particles. The particles in gases are more spread out than the particles in solids or in liquids, so electromagnetic waves move quickly through gases.

Why can't sound travel in a vacuum?

~ Sound cannot travel in a vacuum because mechanical waves, such as sound waves, require a medium to propagate through. Since vacuums contain no matter for the waves to propagate through, sound waves cannot travel through them.

What is the relationship between wavelength and wave speed?

~ Wavelength and wave speed are directly proportional, which means that when the wave speed changes by a certain factor, the wavelength changes by the same factor.

Tutorial Details

Approximate Time 2 Minutes
Pre-requisite Concepts Students should have a general understanding of the following terms: waves and wave speed.
Course Physics
Type of Tutorial Animation
Key Vocabulary wave, wave speed,