March 30, 2011

3.4 Waves Transfer Energy, not Matter

The easiest way to understand this is through a diagram...

If you're still confused:

  1. Imagine holding a rope between you and a friend (or a teacher if you have no friends)
  2. Shake the rope up and down to create a transverse wave
  3. Kinetic energy is sent through the wave to your friend, you know this because your friend will feel the kinetic energy.
  4. But the matter (the Rope) hasn't moved, because if it had your friend would end up with a big pile of rope in their arms, and you'd be standing there with your hands empty looking rather stupid.... @_@


  1. A question from a Biologist. why does the energy make the water go upwards to form the wave, and why does the water wave have that shape?

  2. An answer from a physicist: dunno!

    Love the humour in this post though!