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Thread: Ripples in the water

  1. #1 Ripples in the water 
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    Can someone give me a basic-ish explanation of why ripples are formed in the water when for example you throw a pebble in a lake or something?

    thanks.


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  3. #2  
    Forum Professor river_rat's Avatar
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    Very basic explanation - throwing a stone into water creates a disturbance and liquids do not like disturbances of that sort so it tries to "average" it out over all the liquid by carrying that information to all the difference points of the liquid. Dont quote me on that though, lol


    As is often the case with technical subjects we are presented with an unfortunate choice: an explanation that is accurate but incomprehensible, or comprehensible but wrong.
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  4. #3  
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    thanks dude.

    sorry about the mail btw. (i mailed u this question. strange!)
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  5. #4 Reply to ripples in the water 
    Forum Professor leohopkins's Avatar
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    This is simply due to the fundamental law that for every action there is an equal and opposite re-action.

    You throw the stone into the water; the stone has kinetic energy (or movement energy) as the stone hits the surface of the water (its miniscus) it has to break the water tension; and as the water is of a higher molecular density to that of air, drag is dramatically and suddenly increased. This has the effect slowing the stone down. As the stone in order to slow down MUST loose some of its energy, that energy has to go somewhere and it will be dissapated in three forms: 1) Some amount of thermal energy dissapated by increased friction. 2) Sound energy (as you will hear the splash) and 3) Surplus kinetic energy will be transferred to the surrounding water; this creates ripples, or waves. (Note that the faster you throw the stone into the water (i.e the more energy you give the stone) the more ripples per second it creates. I.E......Higher energy = Higher wavelength. Obseravble in this case.

    Hope this helps

    Leo
    The hand of time rested on the half-hour mark, and all along that old front line of the English there came a whistling and a crying. The men of the first wave climbed up the parapets, in tumult, darkness, and the presence of death, and having done with all pleasant things, advanced across No Man's Land to begin the Battle of the Somme. - Poet John Masefield.

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