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A weight on a spring will cause oscillation.

Oscillation is the repetitive change, typically in time, of some measure about a central value (often a point of equilibrium) or between two or more different states. Familiar examples include a swinging pendulum and alternating current power. The term vibration is sometimes used more narrowly to mean a mechanical oscillation but sometimes is used to mean the same thing as "oscillation". Oscillations happen not only in physical systems, but also in biological systems and in human society.

Oscillator[change | edit source]

An oscillator is something that "vibrates", or repeats the same pattern. Many things in nature move back-and-forth or up-and down when pushed or struck. In time, natural oscillators slow down and stop because of friction.

Examples[change | edit source]

  • The pendulum of a "grandfather clock", for example, is a very slow oscillator.
  • The strings of pianos and string instruments "oscillate" when struck by a hammer.
  • A water wave is the result of water moving up and down.
  • Circuits powered by electricity can "oscillate". Such circuits can be used to make sounds or radio waves.
  • Different chemicals, when you mix them together in the right order, can make some new things. But then these things change back to the original ones, making this repeating pattern. These are called chemical oscillators.

Related pages[change | edit source]