waves and energy


I cannot for the life of me properly understand waves and energy in physics, no matter how many definitions and explanations I come across.

I can do calculations with all of these things, but I have trouble understanding what they represent in reality. Can I touch a wave? Is a wave a physical thing like an object, that moves up and down? Ditto for energy.

The definitions of these things are kinda unhelpful. Defining wave as “thing that transfers energy” doesn’t tell me what that *thing* is, for example; it just tells me something about the thing.

In: 6

All energy and all matter acts as a particle AND a wave. The lower frequencies act more as particles and the higher frequencies act more as waves. You can touch them sure, your mind can sense LOTS of them. You can feel the heat from the sun but you can’t feel X-rays because your mind is only capable of sensing a small range of energies. We can see some energy in the form of light but not very much.As for electromagnetic waves the positive electric forces repel the positive magnetic forces and the energy moves up but as that positive energy repels each other the negative energies attract them back and they come back together and thus they self propagate through space forever repelling and attracting the energy.

Energy and Mass can be thought of as the same thing and it is just how we perceive the two(our minds) and our brains limited ability to sense everything happening around us that lead to misconceptions and confusions. [https://w4hfh.org/em-wave-spectrum-professor-matt-anderson-phd](https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=video&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwjx_s_GjaH2AhXiN30KHdgCBwAQtwJ6BAgCEAI&url=https%3A%2F%2Fw4hfh.org%2Fem-wave-spectrum-professor-matt-anderson-phd&usg=AOvVaw1SjPzDdano9P77OcuwCuyj)that video is ok but might be advanced if it isI would look into the history of electric and how we identified it and the history of magnetism and when you look through history you can put the puzzle pieces together the way society has over the last couple thousand years or so. look into how Erwin Schrödinger combined theories to make the electromagnetic theory and how people like Maxwell describe the two and then look at the scientists that describe electric and magnetism before them. Matter acts as energy and through fusion and fission energy and mass convert into each other.

other simpler videos than the one above is by one of my fav illustrators is [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Io-HXZTepH4](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Io-HXZTepH4)that might not be the video you want to start with…it might be…but that author has plenty of videos that explain physics in a very slow methodical nature.

anyone that studies quantum anything but especially physics knows that we really don’t know much (which goes against the nature of explain like im 5 because you can’t speak on something you don’t KNOW) but in quantum physics we know that we just don’t know what is really going on but we have some VERY powerful theories that help predict and explain a lot of the universe even if they aren’t 100% true. And that is why you can do the calculations without fully understanding where they were derived from.

Think of a wave how you think of a gust of wind,

You understand intuitively that wind is a thing that moves air, but it isnt really a “thing”,
its a transfer of energy.

An example of a wave in action is a whip. The base (handle) of a whip is thick and heavy, it tapers to a thin end.

When you start the wave of a whipping motion, it takes more energy/ effort on your part to get it going, due to the thicker, heavier handle, as this large initial energy input moves down the whip, it speeds up because the amount of mass being moves is less and less, so it gets faster and faster, until the wave reaches the tip and it breaks the sound barrier.

This is just an example of a wave, but hopefully it can help you understand how waves in different mediums, made up of different particles can have various energy levels and can “move through” things

> Is a wave a physical thing like an object, that moves up and down?

Leaving aside electromagnetic waves for a moment:

A wave is not a physical thing, it is a certain kind of movement of physical things.

Let’s star with something easy to visualize: Line up a bunch of hockey pucks, each about an inch apart, and then hit the first one so that it collides with the second one. The first puck pretty much stops and the second puck moves until it collides with the third puck. The second puck stops while th third puck starts moving. The energy gets transferred from the beginning of the line of pucks to the end of the line of pucks even though there is very little movement of the pucks themselves.

This is an approximation of a wave. The pucks are the *medium* that carries the wave energy.

A medium most people are familiar with is water. The water molecules move a bit and return to their original location while the wave energy moves across the water.

> Can I touch a wave?

Sure. Haven’t you ever felt a water wave hit you? You feel the water of course -it’s wet and cold – but the force of the water hitting you is the wave.

Sound waves have air as a medium. You hear things because your ears are sensitive enough to feel the waves.

The tricky waves are electromagnetic waves because they don’t have a physical medium the way other waves do. Instead they have two wave forces that feed off each other. The electric wave creates a magnetic wave. The magnetic wave creates an electric wave. The electric wave creates a magnetic wave…

Sub to this guy… Then spend 2 days watching all the videos.

No seriously. They are great and provide an excellent visual representation of physics that makes.it easier to understand.

You will for certain find a video that explains what you are looking to learn here.


All objects that you can touch are made of energy if you look deep enough. They’re all made of atoms and atoms are mostly “empty” space. So just because you cant touch something, it doesn’t mean its not a real thing. It’s not like you’re caressing the quarks when you’re touching a table.

Physical touch is a poor way of interacting with things that arent large, macro scale objects. This sense unfortunately doesn’t help us that much in understanding physics.

So energy and waves are real things but you can’t pet them and theres no explanation where the sense of touch helps here. You must try to think beyond our limited human senses, which serve us well in navigating the world around us but sadly not in really understanding quantum physics. It just wasn’t evolutionarily advantageous for our species to develop a quantum physics sensing sense, unfortunately.

So instead of wondering whether these things are real things, consider that our senses offer us very limited interactivity with the physical world.