Tuesday, 24 January 2017


In our last post we saw how it was possible for a guitar string to vibrate in a number of different ways.
In the picture we saw the string vibrating first with just one segment (ie the whole string moves from side to side), then with two segments (each half the length of the string), then with three segments, and the with four.  In theory it is possible for a string to vibrate with any number of segments (although it practice it gets harder to set-up the vibration as the number of segments increases).
An import point to realise is that the different types of vibration always include a whole number of segments. You can make the string vibrate with one segment or with two, but not with any fractional number in between.
The different ways in which a string vibrates are an example of a physical process that is 'quantized', or in whole number steps. We'll see later how the idea of whole number steps led to the name quantum theory.

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