2. Wave Interaction

Superposition of Waves

Most waves do not look very simple. They look more like the waves in Figure 13.10, rather than the simple water wave considered in the previous sections, which has a perfect sinusoidal shape.

Waves ripple across a lake by the mountains.

Figure 13.10 These waves result from the superposition of several waves from different sources, producing a complex pattern. (Waterborough, Wikimedia Commons)

Most waves appear complex because they result from two or more simple waves that combine as they come together at the same place at the same time—a phenomenon called superposition.

Waves superimpose by adding their disturbances; each disturbance corresponds to a force, and all the forces add. If the disturbances are along the same line, then the resulting wave is a simple addition of the disturbances of the individual waves, that is, their amplitudes add.

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