138 Wave Reflection

A wave always undergoes reflection when it hits the end of the road. If it is a hard reflection (like a fixed end), the reflection come with a 180° phase change (so the pulse returns on the other side of the slinky). If it is a soft reflection (like a loose end), the reflection comes with no phase change (so the pulse returns on the same side of the slinky).

(Beyond H2 syllabus)

Actually, when a wave encounters a discontinuity in the medium (aka medium boundary), only part of it is reflected, and the remaining part is transmitted. The fraction that is reflected depends on the degree of discontinuity. The more abrupt the change in medium, the higher the fraction that is reflected (and lower the fraction that is transmitted).

Compared to the slinky, the fixed end represents an infinitely heavy slinky, and the loose end represents an infinitely light slinky. For the wave traveling down the slinky, both the fixed end and the loose end represent the most drastic change in medium possible. That’s why 100% of the pulse was reflected and 0% was transmitted. If the medium change is not so abrupt, we will see some of the wave being reflected, and some being transmitted. As illustrated by the below.

4 thoughts on “138 Wave Reflection”

1. AKSHIN BARAthi says:

man you saved my day i wanted to see the real video of waves relection and i found it here, respect you a lot

1. Howard says:

Where did you get the rope/cool to do this experiment?

1. My school has it. It is a metal slinky, but thicker with smaller loop. It is probably available online in the states.