The speed of a wave pulse traveling along a string or wire is determined by knowing its mass per unit length and its tension. In this formula, the ratio ^{mass}/_{length} is read "mass per unit length" and represents the linear mass density of the string. This quantity is measured in kilograms/meter. Tension is the force conducted along the string and is measured in newtons, N. The maximum tension that a string can withstand is called its tensile strength. The formula given above tells us that the "tighter" the string (that is, the greater the tension placed on the string) the faster the waves will travel down its length. It also tells us that the "lighter" the string, that is, the smaller its ^{mass}/_{length} ratio, the faster the waves will travel down its length. |