Types of waves
This section of the site consists of the general types of waves: longitudinal and transverse waves.
Waves appear in various forms such as water waves, light waves and sound waves. The basic definition of a wave is the displacement of energy propagating along a medium. If a boat is traveling through water, it pushes the water out of its resting place, causing the water to propagate until another object alters its path. As the water wave is propagating, it releases energy and displaces the particles of the medium. This displacement is the key factor in causing a wave.
When the particles of the medium are displaced parallel to the direction of the propagation of the wave, it is called a longitudinal wave. When the particles of the medium are displaced perpendicular to the direction of the propagation of the wave, it is called a transverse wave.
If you mark a point on a wheel and watch it rotate in a circle, the point will be directly across from its original position, completing half of a cycle. As the wheel continues to rotate, around until it reaches its starting position and completes a full cycle; this cycle can be defined as a transverse wave. A longitudinal wave can be represented by watching the point on the wheel rotate from its resting place to a point directly opposite before returning to its original position again.
For a java-enabled version of a transverse and longitudinal wave click here.