#### BELIEVE ME NOT! **-** **-** A SKEPTIC's GUIDE

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** Up:** Wavy Strings
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One nice feature of waves in a taut string is that they explicitly
illustrate the phenomenon of *polarization*: if we change our
notation slightly to label the string's equilibrium direction
(and therefore the direction of propagation of a wave in the string)
as , then there are two orthogonal choices of "transverse"
direction: or . We can set the string "wiggling" in
either transverse direction, which we call the two orthogonal
*polarization* directions.
Of course, one can choose an infinite number of transverse
polarization directions, but these correspond to simple
*superpositions* of - and -polarized waves with
the same phase.

One can also superimpose - and -polarized waves of the same
frequency and wavelength but with phases differing by .
This gives left- and right-*circularly polarized* waves;
I will leave the mathematical description of such waves
(and the mulling over of its physical meaning)
as an "exercise for the student . . . . "

Jess H. Brewer -
Last modified: Sun Nov 15 18:01:29 PST 2015