What Are the Characteristics of All Waves?

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Characteristics that all waves have in common are wavelength, amplitude and frequency. Apart from these properties, different types of waves have a number of varying characteristics. A wave is defined as a repetitive disturbance traveling through a medium going from one location to another.

Wavelength is the distance between one point on a wave to a point on the same part of the next wave. Wavelength is usually measured from crest to crest or trough to trough. The crest is the highest point of the wave, and the trough is the lowest point. Amplitude is the maximum displacement of the wave. The higher the wave, the larger the amplitude is. Frequency is the number of waves in a period of time. The hertz is the unit used for measuring frequency. With sound, a higher frequency indicates a higher pitched sound. With color, different frequencies correlate with different colors. For instance, blue has a higher frequency than red.

Several different types of waves exist. Among the types are light waves, sound waves, microwaves and X-rays. Waves travel at different speeds. Speed is determined by calculating the distance the wave travels divided by the time it takes to travel that distance. The medium affects the speed at which a wave travels. Some waves also carry more energy than others, and some waves are longer than others.