4.1. Oscillations
Back in Chapter 2 we started looking at motion, but mostly concerned with stuff moving in a straight line. Now we start to look at stuff oscillating; i.e. moving backwards and forwards. In Physics there are loads of examples of oscillatory motion, but one of the most commonly studied examples is that of a pendulum. A pendulum has a very well defined time period (the time taken to swing back and forth)  the reason behind their historical use in clocks. This regular time period is determined by the length of the pendulum (and perhaps counter intuitively, is NOT affected by the mass of the bob). Some YouTubers have also used some of these interesting properties to make some cool videos of ‘pendulum waves’ – see below.
Now, this subchapter lays a lot of the groundwork for a lot of the upcoming waves material. It has been broken up as follows:
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Periodic Motion : Introducing a few key terms such as time period and frequency.

Simple Harmonic Motion : A short introduction to an important topic area in Physics

Phase and Phase Difference : Using 'radians' to characterise waves.
Periodic Motion
Periodic motion looks at movement backwards and forwards at a certain frequency. Let's start by looking at a nice simple example  a rubber duck bobbing up and down on water.
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Here we can introduce a few key bits of terminology:

The Time Period : the time taken for one complete oscillation, in seconds.

Frequency : The number of oscillations per second, measured in Hertz, Hz.
These are linked by the equation
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f = 1/T (...or T = 1/f)
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If we were to plot the position of the rubber duck over time, we obtain the following relationship as shown below. The duck oscillates about the 'equilibrium position'. The vertical position of the duck is also known as the displacement, measured as the vertical distance from the equilibrium position.
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This representation is a displacementtime representation  showing how the rubber duck oscillates up and down over time. The amplitude is the position of maximum displacement (measured from the equilibrium position). The time period is the time taken for the duck to move through one complete oscillation back to the same point.
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Clearly, this graphical representation is very similar to what you will have looked at in maths with your trigonometric relationships. The graphs of both sine and cosine oscillate in a similar way. In fact, we can represent waves and oscillating motion with either sine or cos graphs. If you are rusty on these, it's worth brushign up on them here.
Video Lessons
Chris Doner  Oscillations  IB Specific  
Khan Academy  Amplitude and Period  
Physics Online  Wave Definitions 
Resources
IB Physics  Topic 4 Notes  
IBPhysics.net  Chapter 4 Summary  IB Revision Notes  
Mr. G  4.1 Teaching Notes  4.1 Student Notes  
Physics and Maths Tutor  Waves Definitions  Waves Key Points  Waves Detailed Notes  Waves Progressive & Standing Waves  A Level Resources  content slightly different 
Questions
Cambridge University Press  Topic 4: Add Qs  Topic 4: Add Qs MS  Topic 4: MCQs  CUP Website Link  Freely available online  
Grade Gorilla  Topic 4 (Waves A) End Quiz  Quick IB Specific Mixed MCQs  
Mr. G  4.1 Formative Assessment  Topic 4 Summary Qs  IB Specific Questions 
Simple Harmonic Motion
Simple harmonic motion (or SHM) is a type of oscillatory motion. Objects following simple harmonic motion have a displacementtime graph similar to that of the rubber duck  obeying our trigonometric mathematical relationships.
There are many examples of objects that follow SHM, such as:

A pendulum swinging

A mass bouncing on a spring

A ball rolling in a curved dish

A ruler vibrating off the side of a bench when 'pinged'.
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Let's start with looking at a mass on a spring  it's a really common example of SHM behaviour and introduces some of the main points quite nicely. PHET have a nice simulation on MassSpring Systems. Click the second tab marked Vectors and take a look in particular at how the Net Force and Acceleration vectors vary with time in relation to the equilibrium position.
We see that as the mass moves above the equilibrium position (i.e. has a positive displacement), the restoring force acts downwards towards the equilibrium position. The acceleration acts in the same direction as this restoring force (in a downwards, negative direction). The greater the displacement from the equilibrium, the greater the restoring force.
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This is one of the key characteristics of SHM.
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The acceleration (and restoring force) is proportional to, and in the opposite direction to the displacement.
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x ∝ a
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This is the same for all objects following simple harmonic motion. For a pendulum, the restoring force always acts towards the equilibrium position. Graphically, this obeys the following relationship.
Plotting the position of the mass spring system against time and we observe an identical relationship to the rubber duck floating on a water wave. The key words we associate with wave motion  e.g. frequency and time period can equally be used to describe this oscillatory motion of a bouncing mass on a spring.
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We look in much more detail at Simple Harmonic Motion in Section 9.1 (HL Only), where we bring in some of the trigonometric maths to model this behaviour.
Geogebra has a couple of nice simulations that clearly demonstrate the mathematical relationships behind SHM.
1) SHM Tutorial : This tutorial nicely explains a few of the key mathematical ideas here.
2) SHM Graphs : This clearly shows the trigonometric relationships we can use to model simple harmonic motion.
Video Lessons
Chris Doner  Oscillations (SHM)  IB Specific  
Khan Academy  Simple Harmonic Motion Intuition  
Science Shorts  Simple Harmonic Motion Intro  Equations go beyond IB  
Study Nova  SHM Intro (Lecture) 
Resources
IB Physics  Topic 4 Notes  
IBPhysics.net  Chapter 4 Summary  IB Revision Notes  
Isaac Physics  SHM Introduction  Only first 2 sections SL  
Khan Academy  SHM Introduction  
Mr. G  4.1 Teaching Notes  4.1 Student Notes  
Physics and Maths Tutor  Further Mechanics Definitions  Further Mechanics Key Points  Further Mechanics Detailed Notes  Further Mechanics Flashcards  A Level Resources  content slightly different 
Questions
Cambridge University Press  Topic 4: Add Qs  Topic 4: Add Qs MS  Topic 4: MCQs  CUP Website Link  Freely available online  
Grade Gorilla  4.1 (SHM) MCQ  Topic 4 (Waves A) End Quiz  Quick IB Specific Mixed MCQs  
Isaac Physics  Oscillators  Some may be beyond SL  
Khan Academy  SHM Introduction Q  
Mr. G  4.1 Formative Assessment  Topic 4 Summary Qs  IB Specific Questions 
Phase and Phase Difference
This last section introduces a new idea that is important to get our heads around before looking at the new ideas related to waves.
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A Level Physics Online introduces the concepts of Phase and Phase Difference below:
To begin with, we need to recap our graphs for sine and cosine. One graphs repeat after a period of 360° or â€‹2π radians, as shown below.
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Now let's add a second wave of the same frequency and time period, shown in red in the graph below. We can see that these waves are not quite insync, and the red wave 'lags' slightly behind the orange wave.
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Here, we introduce a term called Phase Difference to measure the amount of 'lag' between one oscillation and another. Phase difference is typically measured in radians (rather than degrees). (e.g. Wave A and Wave B have a phase difference of π/4 radians between them).
A couple more examples are shown below.

In the top of the two graphs, the oscillations are both oscillating intime and insync. These two waves have no phase difference between them (Φ = 0) and are said to be IN PHASE.

In the bottom graph, the oscillations are both exactly 'opposite' one another  i.e. one reaches its maximum positive displacement when the other reaches its maximum negative displacement. These two waves have a phase difference of π radians between them (Φ = π) and are said to be IN ANTIPHASE.
These ideas of phase difference will become important when we look at the next sections with some ideas to do with wave interference.
You can get a little glimpse at what happens when we change the phase difference between two waves by playing around with this Geogebra simulation.
Video Lessons
Chris Doner  Oscillations (Phase)  IB Specific  
Khan Academy  Phase Constant  
Science Shorts  Phase Difference 
Resources
IB Physics  Topic 4 Notes  
IBPhysics.net  Chapter 4 Summary  IB Revision Notes  
Isaac Physics  Phase  Phasors not required  
Mr. G  4.1 Teaching Notes  4.1 Student Notes  
Physics and Maths Tutor  Waves Definitions  Waves Key Points  Waves Detailed Notes  Waves Progressive & Standing Waves  A Level Resources  content slightly different 
Questions
Cambridge University Press  Topic 4: Add Qs  Topic 4: Add Qs MS  Topic 4: MCQs  CUP Website Link  Freely available online  
Grade Gorilla  Topic 4 (Waves A) End Quiz  Quick IB Specific Mixed MCQs  
Isaac Physics  Path Difference  Mixed Questions  
Mr. G  4.1 Formative Assessment  Topic 4 Summary Qs  IB Specific Questions 
Additional Resources
IB Questions
A question by question breakdown of the IB papers by year is shown below to allow you to filter questions by topic. Hopefully you have access to many of these papers through your school system. If available, there may be some links to online sources of questions, though please be patient if the links are broken! (DrR: If you do find some broken links, please contact me through the site)
Questions on this topic (Section 4) are shown in light blue.
Use this grid to practice past IB questions topic by topic. You can see from the colours how similar the question topic breakdown is year by year. The more you can familiarise yourself with the IB question style the better  eventually you will come to spot those tricks and types of questions that reappear each year.