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Slow Moving Waves in Rope - Physics of toys // Homemade Science with Bruce Yeany

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 Physics   |   Science
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The speed of waves through a stationary rope can vary due to the tension and the density of the material. What happens when the rope itself is put into motion and then a wave disturbance is added. This idea is the start of our investigation using a few different loops of ribbon and rope. The ropes are made into loops by melting and joining the two ends together and then hang limply until put into motion. The behavior of the rope as it hangs stationary and limp versus when it is put into motion is quite remarkable.

The closest analogy that might help to understand what is going on would be to imagine throwing rock in a moving stream or river. The waves traveling upstream would slow down and if the stream would be fast enough, the waves wouldn't be able to move in that direction at all. The waves headed downstream would move very fast since both speeds would be in the same direction.

A future investigation will take a look at varying the speed of the loop. How will the behavior change as the speed varies. Is possible to slow down the wave, possibly stop it, and then reverse it's direction? That would be something to explore.

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