Amplitude (wave motion)
Williams, S. A. Department of Physics, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Last reviewed:October 2019
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The maximum magnitude (value without regard to sign) of the disturbance of a wave. The term “disturbance” refers to that property of a wave which perturbs or alters its surroundings. It may mean, for example, the displacement of mechanical waves, the pressure variations of a sound wave, or the electric or magnetic field of light waves. Sometimes in older texts the word “amplitude” is used for the disturbance itself; in that case, amplitude as meant there is called peak amplitude. This is no longer common usage. See also: Light; Sound
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