Energy Waves

A particle will resonate with the energy waves in the universe. To get a visual of this, imagine a balloon under water in the center of a large swimming pool. If the balloon is rapidly inflated and deflated, it will produce spherical, longitudinal waves that radiate from the balloon, with the intervals where the water is compressed matching the frequency at which the balloon is inflated. Waves drawn into the balloon match the frequency of the out-going waves, so they produce a standing wave for a few wavelengths from the balloon but these standing waves eventually break down to traveling waves. The intensity of these traveling waves decrease proportional to the distance from the balloon, such that they are hardly noticeable by the time they reach the edges of the swimming pool. The intensity decreases with the square of the distance from the balloon.


Longitudinal Wave Illustration

Longitudinal Wave Example


If a particle is in motion, the structure of the wave changes. Imagine the balloon in the pool again. While it is rapidly inflated and deflated it is also moving in a vertical direction, towards the surface of the pool, then changes direction towards the bottom, and then back again. It is vibrating rapidly in the pool whilst sending its spherical, longitudinal wave. This vibration causes a secondary, transverse wave. Its spherical wave resonates at the same frequency with the waves in the pool, but a vibrating particle also creates a transverse wave and its frequency depends on the speed of the vibration. A faster, vibrating particle, creates a higher frequency transverse wave. Vibrating particles, or the kinetic energy of these particles, is what we measure as temperature. Thus, the higher the temperature, the higher the frequency.


Transverse Wave Illustration

Transverse Wave example


The combination of the two types of waves together might look something like a Rayleigh surface wave (2-D View).  An example particle is colored yellow.  Notice its motion.


Longitudinal and Transverse Wave w/ Particles

Rayleigh Surface Wave - Credit Dan Russell



Longitudinal Waves – Magnetism and Gravity share characteristics of longitudinal waves. The inverse square law applies where the intensity decreases based on the square of the distance from an object.

Transverse Waves – The electromagnetic wave shares characteristics of a transverse wave, which has a defined transmission direction and changes frequency. See more in Electron page.


Helpful Links: Wave Terminology