What is a mechanical wave? Explain with an example.


A mechanical wave is a wave that is an oscillation of matter and is responsible for the transfer of energy through a medium. The distance of the wave’s propagation is limited by the medium of transmission. In this case, the oscillating material moves about a fixed point, and there is very little translational motion.

The way mechanical waves are determined, which is displacement divided by wavelength, is an interesting feature. When this dimensionless factor is 1, harmonic effects are generated; for example, when this factor exceeds 1, turbulence occurs.

Example of mechanical waves

A sound wave is a pattern of disturbance induced by sound energy travelling away from its source.

  • Sound waves are longitudinal waves. This implies that the propagation of vibration of particles is parallel to the direction of the energy wave propagation.
  • The medium in which it propagates can either be a solid, a liquid or a gas. Sound travels fastest in solids, relatively slower in liquids and slowest in gases.

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