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Oscillation is a periodic motion, which repeats after certain time interval. Simple harmonic motion is a special type of oscillation. In real time, all oscillatory motion dies out due to friction, if left unattended. We, therefore, need to replenish energy of the oscillatory motion to continue oscillating. However, we shall generally consider an ideal situation in which mechanical energy of the oscillating system is conserved. The object oscillates indefinitely. This is the reference case.

Though, we refer an object or body to describe oscillation, but it need not be. We can associate oscillation to energy, pattern and anything which varies about some value in a periodic manner. The oscillation, therefore, is a general concept. We shall, however, limit ourselves to physical oscillation, unless otherwise mentioned.

Further, study of oscillation has two distinct perspectives. One is the description of motion i.e. the kinematics of the motion. Second is the study of the cause of oscillation i.e. dynamics of the motion. In this module, we shall deal with the first perspective.

Oscillation is a periodic, to and fro, bounded motion about a reference, usually the position of equilibrium.

Examples of oscillation

The object undergoes "to and fro" periodic motion.

The characteristics of oscillation are enumerated here :

  • It is a periodic motion that repeats itself after certain time interval.
  • The motion is about a point, which is often the position of equilibrium.
  • The motion is bounded.

Note that revolution of second hand in the wrist watch is not an oscillation as the concept of “to and fro” motion about a point is missing. Thus, this is a periodic motion, but not an oscillatory motion. On the other hand, periodic swinging of pendulum in mechanical watch is an oscillatory motion.

Description of oscillation

We need a mathematical model to describe oscillation. We often use trigonometric functions. However, we can not use all of them. It is essentially because many of them are not bounded. Recall the plot of tangent function. It extends from minus infinity to plus infinity - periodically. Actually, only the sine and cosine trigonometric functions are bounded.

The plot of tangent function is shown here. Note that value of function extends from minus infinity to plus infinity.

Plot of tangent function

The function is not bounded.

The plots of sine and cosine functions are shown here. Note that value of function lies between "-1" and "1".

Plots of sine and cosine functions

The sine function is bounded.
The cosine function is bounded.

Harmonic oscillation

Harmonic oscillation and simple harmonic oscillation both are described by a single bounded trigonometric function like sine or cosine function having single frequency (it is the number of times a motion is repeated in 1 second). The difference is only that simple harmonic function has constant amplitude over all time (amplitude represents maximum displacement from central or mean position of the periodic motion) as a result of which mechanical energy of the oscillating system is conserved.

Questions & Answers

what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
How can I make nanorobot?
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
how can I make nanorobot?
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
Berger describes sociologists as concerned with
Mueller Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Oscillation and wave motion. OpenStax CNX. Apr 19, 2008 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10493/1.12
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