The wavelength of a wave is the distance from one crest to the next.
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Windows to the Universe original artwork.
The wavelength of a wave describes how long the wave is. The distance from
one crest to the next, or from one trough to the next, of a wave is its wavelength.
Water waves in the ocean, sound waves in air, and light waves of electromagnetic
radiation all have wavelengths.
The greek letter "l" (lambda) is often used in equations to
represent wavelength. The wavelength of a wave is inversely proportional to
frequency. A long wavelength means a low frequency, while a short wavelength
means a high frequency.
Sound waves in
the range that humans
have wavelengths ranging from less than 2 cm (an inch) to about 17 meters (56
feet). The waves of electromagnetic
radiation that make up the visible
light that we can see have wavelengths between 400 (purple light) and 700 (red light) nanometers (10-9 meters).
The frequency and wavelength of a wave are related to each other by this equation:
l = c / f
where "l" is the wavelength, "c" is the speed of
the wave, and "f" is the frequency. For light or other electromagnetic
waves traveling in a vacuum, c = 299,792.458 km/sec (186,282 miles/sec), the
speed of light.
For sound waves moving through air, c is around 343 meters/second (767 miles/hour).
Red light with a frequency around 440 terahertz has waves about 682 nm long
( l = c / f = 2.99 x 108 m s-1 / 440 x 1012 s-1
= 682 x 10-9 m = 682 nm).
Sound waves with a pitch of 1,000 hertz (1 kHz) produce waves with wavelengths
around 34 cm (l = c / f = 343 m s-1 / 1000 s-1 =
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