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Name:  Sriram S.
Status: student
Age: 15
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2000-2001

we say that a standing wave pattern is formed along the length of a FLUTE. we also say that energy is not transported to the left or right in a standing wave. are these two statements contradictory? if not, what do they actually mean that energy in standing wave is "standing" as we can hear the musical notes from a FLUTE.


A flute vibrates when blown. Before anything has a chance to begin, nothing is vibrating. As the air from your mouth hits the "mouthpiece end" of the flute, some energy is transferred to the flute itself. This sends some vibration down the length of the flute. At the far end, there is nowhere for the energy to go, so it reflects back up toward the mouthpiece. In a very short time, amount of energy going down the flute (as a wave) is balanced by the amount coming back up (another wave). This balance has the effect of producing a standing wave. If there were no air molecules outside the flute, this energy would bounce back and forth almost forever.

Because the vibrating sides of the flute smash into air molecules, some energy gets transferred to the air around the flute. It is not in the direction of the flute's standing wave (up or down the length of the flute). The air near the flute is made to vibrate at the frequency of the flute itself. These air molecules then smash into neighboring air molecules, and you have a sound wave carrying energy to your ears.

Dr. Ken Mellendorf
Illinois Central College

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