Catch a wave

You may know that the sounds you hear travel through the air as waves, but the invisibility of air makes this concept a tricky one to visualize.  For those who like physics demonstrations (and who doesn’t), we recently came across this video of a series of pendulums—and the pendulum is perhaps the most accessible form of wave motion we witness in everyday life.

A pendulum’s length determines its frequency, just as sound waves in air have a frequency that corresponds to pitch.  The demonstration superimposes different frequencies to illustrate traveling waves, standing waves, beats, and “random” noise, which are all phenomena that come from mixing different frequencies together.

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