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# What kind of waves require a medium through which to travel?

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Mechanical waves require a medium to travel through so that they can transmit energy. Some examples of mechanical waves are water waves, sound waves and the waves of a slinky or jump rope. The medium through which a mechanical wave moves through can be a fluid, solid or gas.

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Mechanical waves can be either longitudinal or transverse waves. While a longitudinal wave is a wave in which the medium's displacement is parallel to the direction of the wave's propagation, a transverse wave is a wave that vibrates in a perpendicular at a right angle direction to the direction of the wave's propagation. An example of a longitudinal wave is a sound wave moving through air. A string wave is an example of a transverse wave.

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## Related Questions

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Electromagnetic and mechanical waves differ in that electromagnetic waves are always longitudinal and do not require a known medium, while mechanical waves are either longitudinal or compression waves and require a medium. All known electromagnetic waves are also known as forms of light. An example of a longitudinal mechanical wave is a wave in water, while sound is an example of a compression wave.

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A transverse wave is one where the displacement of the medium in which the wave is travelling is perpendicular to its propagation. A pond ripple is an example of a transverse wave.

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The distance that sound can travel depends on what medium the sound wave has to go through. The speed of the wave affects the distance that it can travel. Temperature and atmospheric pressure also can directly affect the amount of distance a sound wave can cover.