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Light and the Electromagnetic Spectrum

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Electromagnetic Waves
- consists of an electric field and a magnetic field
- are transverse waves

Image source https://www.ndeed.org/EducationResources/CommunityCollege/RadiationSafety/Graphics/elec_mag_field.gif

- do not involve vibrating particles and can

travel in a vacuum unlike other waves
- travel at 300,000 km / sec
( the speed of light) in a vacuum
- they will travel at slower speeds when going
through denser materials

Electromagnetic Spectrum
- the different electromagnetic waves are
arranged according to their wavelengths and
- the amount of energy that is carried depends on
the frequency
- higher frequencies have higher energy
- only a small section of the spectrum is visible
to our naked eyes

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Radio waves
- lowest frequency and longest wavelength
- produced when charged particles move
back and forth in an antenna

- we can vary (modulate) either the size (amplitude)

or the frequency of the waves (AM amplitude
modulation or FM frequency modulation)

- radio waves can be interfered with

(mountains , metal structures)

Image source http://i.imgur.com/jJprF.png

- radio waves can be used in medicine to

create pictures (MRI)
- astronomy uses radio telescopes to
"listen" in on space objects

- a special type of radio wave
- microwaves in oven pass through some
things and absorbed by others
- used in communication signals in cell phones etc.
- RADAR - radio detecting and ranging
use microwaves as well
- send out waves and detect them as they bounce
off an object

police use radar and the doppler effect to register


Image source http://hyperphysics.phy-str.gsu.edu/hbase/sound/imgsou/policerad.gif

- waves with frequencies just below visible
light frequencies
- can be felt as heat
- infrared cameras and goggles show images of
the heat from an object
- thermograms are special pictures showing hot
and cold areas

Visible light
- these frequencies can be detected by
eye nerve receptors
- each color has its own frequency
- R ed O range Y ellow G reen B lue I ndigo
V iolet
- nearly half the energy from the sun is
visible light

- just beyond the violet visible portion
- these rays have a higher frequency and
therefore can do more tissue damage
- used to kill bacteria
- some insects can "see" this range
- these wavelengths cause sunburns and
many skin cancers

- the ozone layer in the atmosphere protects

life on Earth from most of the ultraviolet
rays from the sun

Image source http://www.weatherquestions.com/ozone_layer.jpg

X Rays
- have even more energy than ultraviolet so can
pass through many things
- softer material allows them through but
denser things (bone) do not
- X Rays are helpful but can also cause
mutations leading to cancer when overused
-- lead aprons used to protect parts from
exposure to the X rays during some medical tests

- these have the highest frequencies
and therefore most penetrating
- they can be used in medicine (as dyes) to
help detect diseases

The Nature of Light

-- electromagnetic radiation such as light have
both wave and particle properties
photon -- a packet of electromagnetic radiation
of definite energy