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Why do longitudinal waves travel faster in solids?

April 29, 2023
written by Qamar Zaman

Longitudinal waves are waves in which the particles of the medium through which the wave is traveling move in the same direction as the wave itself. These waves are commonly found in solids, liquids, and gases. However, they tend to travel faster in solids than in liquids or gases.

The reason for this is that solids have a higher density and greater elasticity than liquids or gases. When a wave travels through a medium, the wave transfers energy to the particles of the medium, causing them to oscillate back and forth around their equilibrium position. In a solid, the particles are packed closely together, which means they can transmit wave energy more efficiently.

image of longitudinal waves travel faster in solids

Furthermore, solids have a greater degree of molecular cohesion compared to liquids or gases, which means that the forces between the molecules are stronger. These forces help to propagate the wave through the solid.

In addition, solids have a well-defined shape and volume, which means that the particles do not move around as much as they do in liquids or gases. This also helps to maintain the coherence of the wave and allows it to travel faster.

In summary, longitudinal waves travel faster in solids because the particles in a solid are packed closely together, have greater molecular cohesion, and are less mobile than in liquids or gases. These factors allow the wave energy to be transmitted more efficiently through the medium, resulting in faster wave propagation.

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