Superposition of Standing Waves on a String

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The shapes of the first harmonics are shown for a vibrating string of length fixed at each end. The frequency of the fundamental mode of vibration is , where is the speed of the wave and the wave function is .


In general, a vibrating string does not vibrate in a single harmonic mode. The motion is a superposition of several harmonics. The wave function is a linear combination of harmonic functions , where and are constants determined by initial conditions of the problem. The initial shape of the string is shown in the lower plot when . It is symmetric about the point and initial velocity zero throughout the string. The movement of the string after being released is still symmetric with respect to . Only the odd harmonics ( odd) are excited. The even harmonics are null with .


Contributed by: Ronai Machado Lisboa (March 2011)
Open content licensed under CC BY-NC-SA



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