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Scalar Plane Waves



Highlights of the activity

  1. This computer visualization activity is designed to help upper-division undergraduate students visualize scalar plane waves.
  2. Students explore the orientation of scalar plane waves by choosing a wave vector, $\vec{k}$, themselves.
  3. The wrap-up discussion addresses representations of plane waves and what is planar about plane waves

Reasons to spend class time on the activity

When students are first taught about plane waves, most simply recognize the algebraic expression of a plane wave, but most do not understand what is planar about plane waves. This is particularly troubling when students move on to study areas in physics which heavily rely on plane wave approximations, such as optics. This computer visualization activity has students visualizing what is planar about plane waves by choosing a wave vector, $\vec{k}$.


Instructor's Guide

Maple Worksheet

emscalarplanewave.mws (Maple 11 Classic)

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