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Wave Vector
In physics, a wave vector (or wavevector) is a vector used in describing a wave, with a typical unit being cycle per metre. It has a magnitude and direction. Its magnitude is the wavenumber of the wave (inversely proportional to the wavelength), and its direction is perpendicular to the wavefront. In isotropic media, this is also the direction of wave propagation. A closely related vector is the angular wave vector (or angular wavevector), with a typical unit being radian per metre. The wave vector and angular wave vector are related by a fixed constant of proportionality, 2π radians per cycle. It is common in several fields of physics to refer to the angular wave vector simply as the ''wave vector'', in contrast to, for example, crystallography. It is also common to use the symbol ''k'' for whichever is in use. In the context of special relativity, ''wave vector'' can refer to a four-vector, in which the (angular) wave vector and (angular) frequency are combined. Def ...
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Physics
Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its fundamental constituents, its motion and behavior through space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. "Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates to the order of nature, or, in other words, to the regular succession of events." Physics is one of the most fundamental scientific disciplines, with its main goal being to understand how the universe behaves. "Physics is one of the most fundamental of the sciences. Scientists of all disciplines use the ideas of physics, including chemists who study the structure of molecules, paleontologists who try to reconstruct how dinosaurs walked, and climatologists who study how human activities affect the atmosphere and oceans. Physics is also the foundation of all engineering and technology. No engineer could design a flat-screen TV, an interplanetary spacecraft, or even a better mousetrap without first understanding the basic laws of physics. ( ...
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Amplitude
The amplitude of a periodic variable is a measure of its change in a single period (such as time or spatial period). The amplitude of a non-periodic signal is its magnitude compared with a reference value. There are various definitions of amplitude (see below), which are all functions of the magnitude of the differences between the variable's extreme values. In older texts, the phase of a periodic function is sometimes called the amplitude. Definitions Peak amplitude & semi-amplitude For symmetric periodic waves, like sine waves, square waves or triangle waves ''peak amplitude'' and ''semi amplitude'' are the same. Peak amplitude In audio system measurements, telecommunications and others where the measurand is a signal that swings above and below a reference value but is not sinusoidal, peak amplitude is often used. If the reference is zero, this is the maximum absolute value of the signal; if the reference is a mean value (DC component), the peak amplitude is the maximum ...
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Amorphous Solids
In condensed matter physics and materials science, an amorphous solid (or non-crystalline solid, glassy solid) is a solid that lacks the long-range order that is characteristic of a crystal. Etymology The term comes from the Greek ''a'' ("without"), and ''morphé'' ("shape, form"). In some older articles and books, the term was used synonymously with glass. Today, "glassy solid" or "amorphous solid" is considered the overarching concept. Polymers are often amorphous. Structure Amorphous materials have an internal structure comprising interconnected structural blocks that can be similar to the basic structural units found in the corresponding crystalline phase of the same compound. Unlike crystalline materials, however, no long-range order exists. Localized order in amorphous materials can be categorized as short or medium range order. By convention, short range order extends only to the nearest neighbor shell, typically only 1-2 atomic spacings. Medium range order is then de ...
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Isotropy
Isotropy is uniformity in all orientations; it is derived . Precise definitions depend on the subject area. Exceptions, or inequalities, are frequently indicated by the prefix ' or ', hence ''anisotropy''. ''Anisotropy'' is also used to describe situations where properties vary systematically, dependent on direction. Isotropic radiation has the same intensity regardless of the direction of measurement, and an isotropic field exerts the same action regardless of how the test particle is oriented. Mathematics Within mathematics, ''isotropy'' has a few different meanings: ; Isotropic manifolds: A manifold is isotropic if the geometry on the manifold is the same regardless of direction. A similar concept is homogeneity. ; Isotropic quadratic form: A quadratic form ''q'' is said to be isotropic if there is a non-zero vector ''v'' such that ; such a ''v'' is an isotropic vector or null vector. In complex geometry, a line through the origin in the direction of an isotropic vecto ...
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Attenuation
In physics, attenuation (in some contexts, extinction) is the gradual loss of flux intensity through a medium. For instance, dark glasses attenuate sunlight, lead attenuates X-rays, and water and air attenuate both light and sound at variable attenuation rates. Hearing protectors help reduce acoustic flux from flowing into the ears. This phenomenon is called acoustic attenuation and is measured in decibels (dBs). In electrical engineering and telecommunications, attenuation affects the propagation of waves and signals in electrical circuits, in optical fibers, and in air. Electrical attenuators and optical attenuators are commonly manufactured components in this field. Background In many cases, attenuation is an exponential function of the path length through the medium. In optics and in chemical spectroscopy, this is known as the Beer–Lambert law. In engineering, attenuation is usually measured in units of decibels per unit length of medium (dB/cm, dB/km, etc.) and is ...
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Wavefronts
In physics, the wavefront of a time-varying ''wave field'' is the set (locus) of all points having the same ''phase''. The term is generally meaningful only for fields that, at each point, vary sinusoidally in time with a single temporal frequency (otherwise the phase is not well defined). Wavefronts usually move with time. For waves propagating in a unidimensional medium, the wavefronts are usually single points; they are curves in a two dimensional medium, and surfaces in a three-dimensional one. For a sinusoidal plane wave, the wavefronts are planes perpendicular to the direction of propagation, that move in that direction together with the wave. For a sinusoidal spherical wave, the wavefronts are spherical surfaces that expand with it. If the speed of propagation is different at different points of a wavefront, the shape and/or orientation of the wavefronts may change by refraction. In particular, lenses can change the shape of optical wavefronts from planar to sphe ...
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Wave Front
In physics, the wavefront of a time-varying ''wave field'' is the set ( locus) of all points having the same ''phase''. The term is generally meaningful only for fields that, at each point, vary sinusoidally in time with a single temporal frequency (otherwise the phase is not well defined). Wavefronts usually move with time. For waves propagating in a unidimensional medium, the wavefronts are usually single points; they are curves in a two dimensional medium, and surfaces in a three-dimensional one. For a sinusoidal plane wave, the wavefronts are planes perpendicular to the direction of propagation, that move in that direction together with the wave. For a sinusoidal spherical wave, the wavefronts are spherical surfaces that expand with it. If the speed of propagation is different at different points of a wavefront, the shape and/or orientation of the wavefronts may change by refraction. In particular, lenses can change the shape of optical wavefronts from planar to sph ...
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Surface Normal
In geometry, a normal is an object such as a line, ray, or vector that is perpendicular to a given object. For example, the normal line to a plane curve at a given point is the (infinite) line perpendicular to the tangent line to the curve at the point. A normal vector may have length one (a unit vector) or its length may represent the curvature of the object (a '' curvature vector''); its algebraic sign may indicate sides (interior or exterior). In three dimensions, a surface normal, or simply normal, to a surface at point P is a vector perpendicular to the tangent plane of the surface at P. The word "normal" is also used as an adjective: a line ''normal'' to a plane, the ''normal'' component of a force, the normal vector, etc. The concept of normality generalizes to orthogonality (right angles). The concept has been generalized to differentiable manifolds of arbitrary dimension embedded in a Euclidean space. The normal vector space or normal space of a manifold at point P ...
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Phase Velocity
The phase velocity of a wave is the rate at which the wave propagates in any medium. This is the velocity at which the phase of any one frequency component of the wave travels. For such a component, any given phase of the wave (for example, the crest) will appear to travel at the phase velocity. The phase velocity is given in terms of the wavelength (lambda) and time period as :v_\mathrm = \frac. Equivalently, in terms of the wave's angular frequency , which specifies angular change per unit of time, and wavenumber (or angular wave number) , which represent the angular change per unit of space, :v_\mathrm = \frac. To gain some basic intuition for this equation, we consider a propagating (cosine) wave . We want to see how fast a particular phase of the wave travels. For example, we can choose , the phase of the first crest. This implies , and so . Formally, we let the phase and see immediately that and . So, it immediately follows that : \frac = -\frac \frac = \fra ...
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Poynting Vector
In physics, the Poynting vector (or Umov–Poynting vector) represents the directional energy flux (the energy transfer per unit area per unit time) or '' power flow'' of an electromagnetic field. The SI unit of the Poynting vector is the watt per square metre (W/m2); kg/s3 in base SI units. It is named after its discoverer John Henry Poynting who first derived it in 1884. Nikolay Umov is also credited with formulating the concept. Oliver Heaviside also discovered it independently in the more general form that recognises the freedom of adding the curl of an arbitrary vector field to the definition. The Poynting vector is used throughout electromagnetics in conjunction with Poynting's theorem, the continuity equation expressing conservation of electromagnetic energy, to calculate the power flow in electromagnetic fields. Definition In Poynting's original paper and in most textbooks, the Poynting vector \mathbf is defined as the cross product \mathbf = \mathbf \times \mathbf, ...
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Group Velocity
The group velocity of a wave is the velocity with which the overall envelope shape of the wave's amplitudes—known as the ''modulation'' or ''envelope'' of the wave—propagates through space. For example, if a stone is thrown into the middle of a very still pond, a circular pattern of waves with a quiescent center appears in the water, also known as a capillary wave. The expanding ring of waves is the wave group, within which one can discern individual waves that travel faster than the group as a whole. The amplitudes of the individual waves grow as they emerge from the trailing edge of the group and diminish as they approach the leading edge of the group. Definition and interpretation Definition The group velocity is defined by the equation: :v_ \ \equiv\ \frac\, where is the wave's angular frequency (usually expressed in radians per second), and is the angular wavenumber (usually expressed in radians per meter). The phase velocity is: . The function , which ...
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Wave Packet
In physics, a wave packet (or wave train) is a short "burst" or "envelope" of localized wave action that travels as a unit. A wave packet can be analyzed into, or can be synthesized from, an infinite set of component sinusoidal waves of different wavenumbers, with phases and amplitudes such that they interfere constructively only over a small region of space, and destructively elsewhere. Each component wave function, and hence the wave packet, are solutions of a wave equation. Depending on the wave equation, the wave packet's profile may remain constant (no dispersion, see figure) or it may change (dispersion) while propagating. Quantum mechanics ascribes a special significance to the wave packet; it is interpreted as a probability amplitude, its norm squared describing the probability density that a particle or particles in a particular state will be measured to have a given position or momentum. The wave equation is in this case the Schrödinger equation, and through its a ...
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