Waves are all around us, and we interact with them every day. Whenever we admire a glorious sunset, hear a Beethoven symphony, see a rainbow after a storm, or ride the surf at the shore we are interacting with waves. However, not all waves are benign. A seismic wave or earthquake can decimate a city in seconds, and a tsunami can wipe a shoreline clean of buildings, trees and people.
With new technologies we can use sound waves to image a fetus inside the mother’s womb or blast kidney stones into small enough pieces that the body can eliminate them without surgery.
Coherent light waves called lasers can be focused so finely that they are sharper than the most finely honed scalpel and are absolutely sterile. They allow us to communicate long distances over optical networks, do delicate surgery, watch a movie on a DVD and even scan our groceries at the checkout counter at our local store.
Our eyes are wonderfully designed organs that convert light waves into a form our brains can interpret in terms of color, shape and motion. Our ears turn sound waves into a bio-electrical signal that the brain interprets as conversation, music and sometimes noise. This book is a simple and concise introduction to waves and how our sense organs can interpret them. The first few chapters introduce vocabulary and concepts that apply to waves of all types. As the book progresses it covers different types of waves: waves on strings, sound waves, water waves, seismic waves, and light waves. It ends with describing phenomena that are the result of waves interfering with themselves. It explains why we see colored rainbows in oil slicks and soap bubbles, and how instruments produce their special musical tones.
Waves our important part of how we live and how we view the world around us. Take a tour of the waves in our lives.