Essay on Similarities and Difference of Light and Sound Waves

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A wave is the transmission of energy that occurs due to the vibration of particles. A Wave vibration occurs in a repeating pattern. Ideally, different waves carry different amounts of energy. For example, some can take a significant amount of energy while others carry small quantities depending with initial disturbance. Besides, all waves can be either short or long. The waves can occur frequently and occasionally as well. Often, the force of the disturbance determines the speed that the wave can travel (Kerker, 2013). For this reason, the waves can either slowly in the medium or slow. The purpose of this essay is to compare and contrast the light and sound waves. The light and sound waves are forms of energy that originate from one point to another. The two types of waves have sources. The natural sources of light are the sun, the moon, and the stars. The sound may originate from thunderstones, animals, and vehicles. A sound wave starts when the particles are under a compression.

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Naturally, light and sound of waves share some characteristics. The types of waves have Amplitudes. As the wave move along the medium of transmissions, they can be barely noticeable while others can be very high and visible (Kerker, 2013). Naturally, the movement of a wave is due to the vibration of the particles in the medium of their transmissions. The upward and downward displacement of the particles in the medium of transmission forms Amplitude. The movement of both the light and the sound waves involve the collisions of the particles. The collisions of the particles cause the medium to move some distance from the resting position

(Kerker, 2013).

The light and the sound waves have wavelengths. The Amplitudes that result from the upwards and the downwards movements of the medium leads to the formations of a series of troughs and crest. As a result, the distance between the troughs and peak that occurs in a sequence is designated to as wavelength.

(Carusotto, 2014)

The light and sound waves have frequencies. A frequency of a wave consists of a complete crest and trough. The number of full cycles within a given time is the frequency of the wave. The speed of vibrations of the waves in the source determines the frequency. The frequency is a critical variable in waves. In the light waves, a frequency is a variable that is used to distinguish the different colors of light waves. For example, the blue light differs from the red light because of their difference in the speeds of their frequency. The frequencies of the sound waves vary with animals (Carusotto, 2014). Dogs, for example, hear sounds more frequently than the human beings do. The frequency of a sound last for some time called period. Normally, it is possible to calculate the period of a wave when the frequency is known. The reciprocal of frequency is the period of a wave.

The light and the sound waves can be reflected. All types of waves can bounce once they encounter objects. Ideally, when the light and sound waves hit a rough surface, the particles are scattered in different directions. Often, the angle of incidence and the angle of reflections of a wave are equal (Maldovan, 2013). Additionally, both the light and the light waves have properties such as refractions. Refractions refer to the variations in the speed of the wave due to the when there is a change in the medium of transmissions. Ideally, the change in medium results in the bending of sounds. Often, the bending of the sound is prevalent if, in the process of media change, the waves hit a different medium in a non-90 degrees angle.

The waves can interfere with each other. The wave interference can be a destructive and a constructive interference. Constructive interference in waves is that which can result in an increasing in the interfering waves (Estep et al. 2014). The destructive waves, on the other hand, make the interfering waves to disappear. Additionally, the light and the sound waves can travel through substances such as gasses, solids, and liquids. Light waves is unique with it encounters an opaque material which cannot allow light to pass through


The light and sound waves have an individual property that distinguishes them from each other. For example, light waves are transverse waves. Naturally, light travels in a straight line where the directions of the wave travel are at 90 degrees to the direction of wave vibrations. The light waves can travel through both the translucent and the transparent substances. Light waves are distinct because they do not need the medium for transmission (Espinoza, 2016). For example, light waves can travel through a vacuum, where there is no need for substances that can aid the transmissions.

Another difference between light and sound wave emanate from their detections. Eyes and the cameras help in the detections of light waves. However, the ears and the microphones aid in the detections of the nature of light. The speed of light and sound waves differ. For example, the light waves travels faster than the sound waves (Espinoza, 2016). The standard speed of light in a vacuum is approximately 300, 000, 000 meters in a second. Sound waves travel in media in a speed of a proximately 343 meters in one second. In the normal situations, it possible to see lightning before hearing the sounds it produces. In an explosion of fire, light appears ahead of the sounds.

Light and sound waves behave differently when they encounter surfaces. For example, when the light waves encounter a smooth surface, the surface acts as a mirror. However, for the sound waves, the interactions of the wave and a smooth surface cause an echo. A rough surface scatters both the light and the sound waves in all directions, and the angle of reflection and incidences remains equal in the two types of waves (Espinoza, 2016). The amplitudes of sound waves increase when the frequency of forced vibration equals the frequency of the object. Ideally, the pitch of the sound varies depending on the position of the object. For example, when receive or the object changes its position, the pitch of the sound. However, for the light, the speed of light does not change with the position of the source but a change in the medium of travel. The two types of waves differ because of the effect the cause on the medium of transmission. Light waves in transparent medium

A Sound wave is a longitudinal wave. In a sound wave, the direction of the wave is parallel to the wave displacement. Sound waves are described depending on their characteristics. For example, sound can be either low or high. The speed of vibrations of particles in the medium of transmission determines the pitch of the sounds (Mishra et al. 2016). Often, the number of waves produced in a given time varies hence the pitch of the sound. The frequency of the sound is imperative because the ears are selective in the nature of sound it detects. It is estimated that a normal ear of human beings has a capability of detecting a maximum of 20,000 vibrations within a second.

Light waves from the sun pass through a vacuum to reach the surfaces of the earth. Ideally, a light wave interferes with both the magnetic and electric fields. Notably, following the ability of light waves to interfere with magnetic and electric fields, it is an electromagnetic wave. The frequency of light affects the color (Espinoza, 2016). For example, light with low-frequency forms a red light while high frequency results in the formation of a violet light. Ideally, when the medium for travel is denser, the speed of light waves becomes slow. Light cannot travel through an opaque material.

A sound wave varies with the frequencies. Often, sound waves with a low frequency results in a low note while a sound of high frequency causes a high note. The sound waves behave differently from the light waves in a denser medium. For example, when the medium is denser the speed of sound waves is higher. The ears detect the variations in the frequencies. For example, sound with high frequencies produces a high note in the ears (Cremer, & Heckl, 2013). However, sounds with low frequencies results in a low note. The variations in the auditory sensations cause the differences in the pitch of sounds. The case is different from that situation of variation in light spectrums. For example, the visual sensations that result from the change in the frequencies cause color variations. For example, the eye senses a light of a low frequency a red in color and a light of high frequency as violet in color.

The difference between longitudinal and transverses waves regard polarization. Polarization is the processes that result to the alignments of transverse waves in a single direction. It is not possible for the longitudinal waves to move in one direction hence the difference. The reductions in the speed of light result from delay of absorption and emissions. Ideally, it only the light waves that cannot pass through a media that causes the particles to resonate (Cremer, & Heckl, 2013). However, the sound waves cause a transmission of light energy between particles. In solids, the sound production occurs when there is a transfer of energy from one particle to another. The impact is the same for a different Media where the vibrations of particles result in the absorption and transmission of energy.

In conclusion, light and sound waves are similar in that they both have frequencies, amplitudes, periods, and wavelengths. The two waves can be reflected, refracted and interfere. The light and the sound waves are transmitted through media. However, their difference includes, light waves are transverse while the sound waves are longitudinal. The sound waves cannot be polarized while the transverse waves can. Reflected sounds forms echoes while reflected light forms images. Light waves can travel through a vacuum but sound waves cannot.


Carusotto, I. (2014, September). Superfluid light in bulk nonlinear media. In Proc. R. Soc. A (Vol. 470, No. 2169, p. 20140320). The Royal Society.

Cremer, L., & Heckl, M. (2013). Structure-borne sound: structural vibrations and sound radiation at audio frequencies. Springer Science & Business Media.

Espinoza, F. (2016). Wave Motion as Inquiry: The Physics and Applications of Light and Sound. Springer.

Estep, N. A., Sounas, D. L., Soric, J., & Alu, A. (2014). Magnetic-free non-reciprocity and isolation based on parametrically modulated coupled-resonator loops. Nature Physics, 10(12), 923-927.

Kerker, M. (2013). The scattering of light and other electromagnetic radiation: physical chemistry: a series of monographs (Vol. 16). Academic press.

Maldovan, M. (2013). Sound and heat revolutions in phononics. Nature, 503(7475), 209-217.

Mishra, R. C., Ghosh, R., & Bae, H. (2016). Plant acoustics: in the search of a sound mechanism for sound signaling in plants. Journal of experimental botany, erw235.

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