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Wave Machine Model Documents

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Main Document

Wave Machine Model 

written by Wolfgang Christian

This model simulates the wave generating machine created by John Shive at Bell Laboratories and made famous by the Similarities in Wave Behavior film.  The machine consists of horizontal cross-bars welded to a central wire spine that is perpendicular to the bars. The spine was constructed so that it can freely twist, allowing the cross-bars to produce wave-like patterns. The simulation allows various pulse shapes to be sent down the machine by selecting a function for the twist of the first rod or by dragging the first rod. The far end of the wave machine can be free or fixed, which changes the nature of the reflected wave.  Change the lengths of the bars to simulate the effect of a wave propagating in a non-uniform medium.

The original film that introduced Dr. Shive's wave generating machine can be viewed at no cost:
Film: Similarities of Wave Behavior (AT&T Archives and History Collection).


The  Wave Machine model is a supplemental simulation for the article "Standing Waves in a Nonuniform Medium" by Paul Gluck in The Physics Teacher 49(2), 76-77 (2011) and has been approved by the authors and The Physics Teacher editor.  The Wave Machine model was created using the Easy Java Simulations (EJS) modeling tool.  It is distributed as a ready-to-run (compiled) Java archive.

Last Modified October 7, 2013

This file has previous versions.

Source Code Documents

Wave Machine Source Code 

The source code zip archive contains an XML representation of the Wave Machine model.   Unzip this archive in your EJS workspace to compile and run this model using EJS.

Last Modified August 28, 2012

This file has previous versions.