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vibration

vibration, in physics, commonly an oscillatory motion—a movement first in one direction and then back again in the opposite direction. It is exhibited, for example, by a swinging pendulum, by the prongs of a tuning fork that has been struck, or by the string of a musical instrument that has been plucked. Random vibrations are exhibited by the molecules in matter (see Brownian movement). Any simple vibration is described by three factors: its amplitude, or size; its frequency, or rate of oscillation; and the phase, or timing of the oscillations relative to some fixed time (see harmonic motion). Sound is produced by the vibrations of a body and is transmitted through material media in pressure waves (see wave) made up of alternate condensations (forcing of the molecules of the medium together) and rarefactions (pulling of the molecules of the medium away from one another). In sound the vibration is longitudinal, for the movement is to and fro along the direction in which the sound is traveling. When a sound wave of one frequency strikes a body that will vibrate naturally at the same frequency, the vibration of the body is called sympathetic vibration. A reinforcement of sound resulting from sympathetic vibration is called resonance. When the vibrations of a sound-producing body cause another body to vibrate in the same frequency, not normally its own, the vibration is known as forced vibration. Heat is commonly defined as the energy of molecules, part of which consists of the energy of their vibrational motion.

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vibration

vi·bra·tion / vīˈbrāshən/ • n. an instance of vibrating: powerful vibrations from an earthquake | the big-capacity engine generated less vibration. ∎  Physics an oscillation of the parts of a fluid or an elastic solid whose equilibrium has been disturbed, or of an electromagnetic wave. ∎  (vibrations) inf. a person's emotional state, the atmosphere of a place, or the associations of an object, as communicated to and felt by others. DERIVATIVES: vi·bra·tion·al / -shənl/ adj.

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vibrate

vi·brate / ˈvīˌbrāt/ • v. move or cause to move continuously and rapidly to and fro: [intr.] the cabin started to vibrate | [tr.] the bumblebee vibrated its wings for a few seconds. ∎  [intr.] (vibrate with) quiver with (a quality or emotion): his voice vibrated with terror. ∎  [intr.] (of a sound) resonate; continue to be heard: a low rumbling sound that began to vibrate through the car. ∎  [intr.] (of a pendulum) swing to and fro.

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