What happens when a source of energy causes a medium to vibrate?

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Mechanical waves, such as sound waves, would be created if an energy source caused a medium to vibrate.

Energy vibrating a medium produces energy waves that are mechanical waves, which means that they require a medium through which to travel.

A medium refers to a substance through which energy can be transferred from one location to another, from one particle to another. A medium can be either a solid, liquid, or a gas. As an illustration, the mechanical waves of sound travel the fastest through solid because the particles are so close to one another.

Mechanical waves can be:

  1. traverse, with up-and-down crests and troughs
  2. longitudinal, with compressions and rarefactions
  3. surface, with combined up-and-down and back-and-forth motion (combining traverse and longitudinal characteristics)

To continue the illustration, sound waves are classified as longitudinal waves. Longitudinal waves, with compressions and rarefactions, move in a back and forth motion.

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