What is Oscillation?

Oscillation is a recurrent shift, usually in time, of a variable (usually physical or chemical) in relation to a central value or between two or more different states. Mechanical example includes a swinging pendulum or wind waves.

In electronics: alternating current or electromagnetic radiation. In acoustics: sound waves. In sub atomic research: elementary fragments or photons.

In the above examples of oscillation the location of the value have a central point of mechanical or electrical equilibrium.

Mechanical Oscillation

The context of the term vibration is variable. Frequently it is used in a more limited sense for mechanical oscillation while occasionally is compatible with "oscillation" in other fields of measurable variables.

Oscillations may happen also in other fields of science. Medicine, biology, psychology, economy, sociology, geology, astronomy, trends in industry, entertainment field, politics and religion may include this phenomenon.

Theoretically it is possible to create a basic mechanical oscillating system that is consisted of a mass adhered to a linear spring and is free of other external forces. The friction can be minimized by usage of smooth materials, air or ice.

The system is in equilibrium during its resting state. It is a state when the spring is static. If this imaginary system is displaced from the equilibrium to any direction, the spring is resisting to this deviation by applying restoring force on the mass, tending to bring it back to equilibrium.

When the mass is moving back to the equilibrium point, it develops a momentum with a maximal velocity in the equilibrium point. The moving mass continues the motion beyond that point when a restriction force is applied. It is considered as a new restoring force in the opposite direction.

If a constant force such as gravity, electric field or magnetic field is added to the system, the point of equilibrium is shifted. The dynamics of this imaginary spring-mass system under ideal environmental conditions follow mathematical equations that are known as are the simple harmonic oscillator and the regular periodic motion.

Simple harmonic motion

The general terminology for these is "the simple harmonic motion". The value of starting this part of the article with the example of the spring-mass system helps to understand that in mechanical systems oscillations occur in the following way: At the static equilibrium displacement, the mass has kinetic energy that is transformed into potential energy stored in the spring at the extremes of its path.

The example of the imaginary spring-mass system demonstrates several features of oscillation: (1) The existence of equilibrium. (2) The presence of a restoring force. (3) The dynamics of the restoring force.

Click to read the rest of the article: Sound waves