Page:Light waves and their uses.djvu/22

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Light Waves and Their Uses

3. Frequency (pitch).

4. Form (character).

Light gives precisely the same kinds of information, and hence it is only natural to infer that light also is a wave motion. We know, in fact, that it is so; but before giving the evidence to prove it, it will be well to make a little preliminary study of the chief characteristics of wave motion.

Michelson Light waves and their uses fig001.jpg

FIG. 1

One of the difficulties encountered in studying wave motion is the rapidity of the propagation of the waves. A fairly moderate speed is attained by the waves propagated along a spiral spring. If one end of such a spring be fastened to a wooden box on the wall of the lecture-room, while the other end is held in the hand, we can see that any motion communicated by the hand is successively transmitted to the different parts of the spring until it reaches the wall. Here it is reflected back toward the hand, but with diminished amplitude. We can also see that any kind of transverse motion, i. e., motion at right angles to the length of the spring, whether regular or irregular, gives rise to a corresponding wave form which travels along the spring with a velocity that is the same in every case.

If the spring be very suddenly stretched or relaxed, a