Difference Between Stationary and Progressive Waves (With Table)

The terms stationary wave and progressive waves link to Physics and especially to the famous chapter Light (difficult as most students say).

These two terms have a clear cut definition and different meanings. Though both terms have the word wave, they differ like the wave.

Stationary vs Progressive Waves

The difference between Stationary and Progressive waves is that in which the wave is still and confined to one place is stationary and the wave that travels is progressive.

Stationary waves and progressive waves are very useful for industrialists, researchers, and scientists. If you also come to know about their fascinating facts it may also help you in dealing with real-life problems.

Both are waves but with different uses and applications in various fields. They are mostly related to physics but can also be related to geologists, biologists, medical science, chemical sciences, and others.


 

Comparison Table Between Stationary and Progressive Waves (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of ComparisonStationary WaveProgressive Wave
NatureThese waves do not travel and remain confined between the medium.These waves travel in a medium with definite velocity.
AmplitudeThe amplitude of the particles within a wave varies from zero at nodes to maximum at antinodes.The amplitude is the same for all particles present in the wave.
WavelengthWavelength is denoted as twice the distance between adjacent nodes.
nλ=2L (where n=1,2,3….)
Wavelength is simply equal to the distance between the particles at the same phase.
nλ=L (where n=1,2,3…)
FrequencyAll particles oscillate at the same frequency but the particles at nodes do not.Here all particles oscillate at the same frequency.
EnergyEnergy is not transmitted by the wave, thus we can observe no energy associated with it.Energy is transmitted by the progressive wave.

 

What are Stationary Waves?

A stationary wave or standing wave is static, it remains in between the boundaries of the medium and does not travel. Each particle within the wave has its characteristic vibration.

All the particles in the wave vibrate in phase but opposite to the particles in the adjacent phase. All the particles attain their maximum velocity when passes through the mean position.

Energy may translocate back and forth, but the average energy always remains zero.

Stationary waves can be of two types –

  1. Longitudinal wave: Here the wave vibrates in the direction of propagation. The particles move parallel to the wave direction, which is in the same direction. Example:- Sound made in an air column.
  2. Transverse wave: Here the wave vibrates to the right angle of the direction of the propagation. The wave causes the particles to move perpendicular to the energy transfer. Example:- Lightwave.

Uses of stationary wave:

  1. Standing waves have a perfect application in the music industry, in making instruments like guitar, piano, flute, and others.
  2. They are used in radio stations.
  3. It is used in making ropes for the circus.
 

What are Progressive Waves?

Progressive waves travel in a medium with definite velocity. Each particle within the wave executes the same vibration.

The amplitude of each particle is the same but the phases continue to change randomly. Similarly, all the particles in the wave attain their maximum velocity when passes through the mean position.

Progressive waves have a definite amount of energy, that they transfer or carry.

Progressive waves can be of two types –

  1. Longitudinal wave: Here the wave vibrates in the direction of propagation. The particles move parallel to the wave direction, which is in the same direction. Example:- Sound wave.
  2. Transverse wave: Here the wave vibrates to the right angle of the direction of the propagation. The wave causes the particles to move perpendicular to the energy transfer. Example:- Lightwave and Earthquake.

Uses of Progressive waves:

  1. It is used as microwaves in micro ovens.
  2. It is used to generate hydroelectric energy from water waves.
  3. It is also used in mechanical waves like solid, liquid, and gas.

Main Differences Between Stationary and Progressive Waves

The key differences between them are listed below:

  1. Stationary waves are still, they do not travel in a medium. Progressive waves travel in the medium in different phases.
  2. Stationary waves are at rest but they perform simple harmonic motion (SHM) in varying amplitude. Progressive waves, on the other hand, perform simple harmonic motion in its mean position.
  3. Change in pressure and density is not uniform in the stationary wave but the change in pressure and density is uniform in progressive waves.
  4. Standing waves consist of nodes and antinodes whereas the Progressive wave consists of crests and trough.
  5. Stationary waves are produced by the intersection of opposite waves. Progressive waves are formed by any disturbance in the medium.

 

Conclusion

So, now you can clearly understand the application and characteristics of these two waves. Always make sure that both these terms link to physics and they have a clear cut definition and concept.

Stationary and Progressive waves are not usually interesting to common people as they take little significance in their life.

It is very useful to the employers working in the music factories, water generator supply, radio stations, and other industries using these mechanical waves.

They are also useful to the geologists to understand the vulnerability of incoming disasters like earthquakes, cyclones, or tsunami. So that they can address the people for early precautions.

Thus now you have a clear concept of these two physics-related terms. Use wisely!


 

References

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/computer-science/progressive-wave
  2. https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/abs/10.1098/rspa.1915.0025
  3. https://asa.scitation.org/doi/abs/10.1121/1.1908859
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