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5.2 Vibrating string: speed of wave propagation

If standing waves are set up when two travelling waves moving in opposite directions interact, then how are standing waves set up on a string and why are they set up only at certain frequencies?

To help answer these questions, I want you first to imagine a length of string that is fixed at one end and held in someone's hand at the other. Suppose the person holding the string flicks their end of the string in such a way that an upward pulse is sent along the string.

As the pulse pa
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6.3 Root-mean-square amplitude

One drawback of the amplitude as I have defined it is that although it allows the relative sizes of sine waves to be compared, it does not give a good idea of what a sine wave can deliver in absolute terms. For instance, a sine wave with an amplitude of 10 volts has twice the amplitude of one with an amplitude of 5 volts. But is a power source that delivers a sine wave with an amplitude of 10 volts as powerful as, say, a 10 volt battery? Could you use it to drive a bulb and get the same illum
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4.2 Frequency, wavelength and the speed of sound

The speed of sound has a joint relationship with both the wavelength and the frequency of the sound. To see why, recall that at the end of Section 2.5, in connection with the wave produced by a tuning fork, I said ‘in the time it has taken for the source to go through one cycle of oscillation, the wave h
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2.7 Summary

Pressure in the air is related to how closely packed the molecules are. Other things being equal, more closely packed molecules are at a higher pressure than more dispersed molecules. Sound is associated with fluctuations of the air pressure caused by local disturbance. Fluctuations of pressure travel outwards away from the disturbance, carrying energy imparted by the disturbance.

A simple form of local disturbance to air pressure is a vibrating tuning fork. It generates a pressure wave
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5.9 Developing other systems methods

There are many more methods that are regarded as systems approaches for managing complexity (e.g. Rosenhead, 1989a; Flood and Carson, 1988; Flood and Jackson, 1991; Mingers and Gill, 1997; Francois, 1997; Flood, 1999; Jackson, 2000). The systems practitioners responsible for developing these come from a varied background, but in the main their experiences are similar to those described for Checkland, Beer, Espejo and the T301 team. All wanted to be able either to take action that stakeholders
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5.5 Experiences that motivated the development of systems methods

I have already introduced various systems methods. Behind all of these methods, there has generally been a champion, a promoter aided by countless co-workers, students, etc. To paraphrase the French sociologist of technology, Bruno Latour: we are never confronted with a systems method, but with a gamut of weaker and stronger associations; thus understanding what a method is, is the same task as understanding who the people are.

A method, like any social technology, depends on many peopl
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5.3 Purposeful and purposive behaviour

It is possible, as observers, to ascribe a purpose to what we or others do, the actions we take. How particular actions, or activities are construed will differ from observer to observer because of their different perspectives, which arise from their traditions of understanding. For example, in Author(s): The Open University

4.2 Articulating your appreciation of complexity

Initially, I would like you to notice whether and how your appreciation of the phrase ‘managing complexity’ has changed since you started the unit. As you work through Section 4 you will encounter a number of ways of thinking about complexity that may be new to you, so it becomes important to record your developing understanding. To help you with this, return to your notes on Author(s): The Open University

3.7 Being ethical

As outlined in Table 3, ethics within systemic practice are perceived as operating on multiple levels. Like the systems concept of hierarchy, what we perceive to be good at one level might be bad at another. Because an epistemological position must be chosen, rather than taken as a g
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7.1 Introduction

The last activity was a demanding task. People I asked to do it during the writing of this unit, found it took a lot of concentration but it brought up lots of ideas, feelings and suggestions for action. Most of them were also concerned their rich picture might not be good enough. I imagine you will share some of these reactions. If you share any of these concerns, remember there are lots of ways of drawing a good rich picture and almost all rich pictures can be improved. Improving your rich
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6 Part 2: 2 Immersing yourself in complexity

The first three activities in Figure 4 are to plan a strategy, then to immerse yourself in an example of complexity, and then represent that complexity through drawing a rich picture. I've selected a rich picture as the focus of this task because it is a means of bringing you into a r
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2.3 Taking responsibility for your own learning

Not much of this unit conforms to the traditional pattern I mentioned earlier – the theory-example-exercise pattern. In particular, you will find you are expected to discover much of it for yourself. Why is this? This is a legitimate question and deserves a full answer. One year, a student at a residential summer school complained I had not taught him properly. I was, he told me, an expert and so why did I not demonstrate how to tackle the problem he was working on and pass my expertise on
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18.2.2 Compatibility

An innovation that is compatible with the experiences, values and needs of its potential buyers will be adopted more rapidly than one that isn't compatible. For example mobile phones have spread rapidly because they are compatible with social and cultural trends towards faster communications, increased personal mobility and the desirability of high-tech gadgets. However the car seat belt, patented in 1903, wasn't adopted on any significant scale until the 1970s (Author(s): The Open University

11.5.4 Analogy

Analogy draws on similar situations to provide ideas for invention and design. Alexander Graham Bell used the analogy of the human ear when designing telephone apparatus to receive sound. As mentioned above, his first receivers were much better than his transmitters where the analogy with the ear didn't work as well. When devising their flying machine, the Wright brothers used the analogy of soaring birds twisting their wings to restore balance. They designed the wings of their aircraft to be
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5.8 Dominant design

In most examples of evolving technological innovation there is a period when rival designs are competing to outperform each other, both in what they do and how well they appeal to the consumer. Certain features of a product or process come to be recognised as meeting key needs and they are incorporated in subsequent improved versions of the design. Other features might meet too narrow a set of needs to be economical and are dropped.

Gradually what emerges is a dominant design, wh
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5.4 Product champion

Throughout the development of this innovation Edison endeavoured, by means of persuasive argument and demonstrations of progress, to convince those people who were in a position to help further the success of the electric light that it had great potential. These people included financiers who could provide capital for more research and development, industrialists who might install it in their factories, and politicians who might agree to the large-scale city installation of a lighting system.
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5.1 Introduction to key concepts

Before I go any further I will establish the meaning of some of the key concepts that you will encounter throughout this unit.

The key concepts elaborated in this unit are:

  • inventor

  • invention

  • design

  • product champion

  • entrepreneur

  • improver

  • innovation

  • dominant design

  • robust design

  • lean design

  • radical
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4.1 An explanation

I will now elaborate on my answer from Exercise 1. I'm doing this because my internet search revealed more than I've written in the above answer, and to show that the invention of the telephone and its use by consumers is not as plain and simple as you may think. You we
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2.2 The inventive drive

What events and ideas spurred people to come up with thousands of inventions in the last 100 years?

Ron Hickman was a do-it-yourself enthusiast who damaged a chair being used to support a piece of wood he was sawing. Instead of merely being annoyed at the accident he set about designing and building a prototype of a combined workbench and sawhorse to prevent further damage to his furniture. This became the Workmate (Author(s): The Open University

2.1 Everyday life

Picture an everyday scene. You're in a high street coffee shop. All around you people are drinking coffee. Some people are chatting with friends, others are using their mobile phone. A few individuals seem to be working – consulting their laptop computers, scribbling notes. In a corner of the coffee shop an internet cafe has been set up. At one table a couple of teenagers are laughing at a message in a chat room, while at another table an old chap searches the Web for something.

Now
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