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This circuit is a simple model of a transmission line.  A pulse propagates down the length of the ladder like a wave.  The resistor at the end has a value equal to the characteristic impedance of the ladder (determined by the ratio of L to C), which causes the wave to be absorbed.  A larger resistance or an open circuit will cause the wave to be reflected; a smaller resistance or a short will cause the wave to be reflected negatively.  See the Feynman Lectures 22-6, 7.

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