# Comparing Wavelengths – Radio to Gamma

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This diagram compares the wavelength of four electromagnetic waves and arranges them according to their position within the electromagnetic spectrum.

• Radio waves are shown at the top. They have the longest wavelength of the four types. These waves are shown as dull red. They are invisible to the human eye.
• Red has the longest wavelength of the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum.
• Violet has the shortest wavelength of the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum.
• Gamma rays are shown at the bottom. They have the shortest wavelength of the four types. These waves are shown as a dull violet. They are invisible to the human eye.
• The unit of measurement of wavelength is the metre.
• When the wavelength of electromagnetic waves is very short, metres are sub-divided into micrometres, nanometres and picometres.
• When the wavelength of electromagnetic waves is long, metres are converted into kilometres.
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## Description

#### Comparing Wavelengths - Radio to Gamma

###### TRY SOME QUICK QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS TO GET STARTED
Gamma rays have a shorter wavelength than radio waves.
Red has the longest wavelength whilst violet has the shortest.
Blue and violet are two of the colours in the visible spectrum with the shortest wavelengths.
Gamma rays have the shortest wavelengths of any type of radiation within the electromagnetic spectrum.

• This diagram compares the wavelength of four electromagnetic waves and arranges them according to their position within the electromagnetic spectrum.
• Radio waves are shown at the top. They have the longest wavelength of the four types. These waves are shown as dull red. They are invisible to the human eye.
• Red has the longest wavelength of the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum.
• Violet has the shortest wavelength of the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum.
• Gamma rays are shown at the bottom. They have the shortest wavelength of the four types. These waves are shown as a dull violet. They are invisible to the human eye.
• The unit of measurement of wavelength is the metre.
• When the wavelength of electromagnetic waves is very short, metres are sub-divided into micrometres, nanometres and picometres.
• When the wavelength of electromagnetic waves is long, metres are converted into kilometres.
###### Remember that:
• The position of an electromagnetic wave within the electromagnetic spectrum is determined by its wavelength (or frequency).
• The electromagnetic spectrum includes, in order of decreasing wavelength and increasing frequency: radio waves, microwaves, infrared radiation, visible light, ultraviolet radiation, X-rays and gamma rays.
• The electromagnetic spectrum includes, in order of the increasing size of wavelength and decreasing frequency: gamma rays, X-rays,  ultraviolet radiation, visible light,  infrared radiation, microwaves and radio waves.
• The electromagnetic spectrum includes all possible wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation, ranging from low energy radio waves through visible light to high energy gamma rays.

#### Some key terms

Wavelength is a measurement from any point on the path of a wave to the same point on its next oscillation. The measurement is made parallel to the centre-line of the wave.

• The wavelength of an electromagnetic wave is measured in metres.
• Each type of electromagnetic radiation, such as radio waves, visible light and gamma waves,  forms a band of wavelengths on the electromagnetic spectrum.
• The visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum is composed of the range of wavelengths that correspond with all the different colours we see in the world.
• Human beings don’t see wavelengths of visible light, but they do see the spectral colours that correspond with each wavelength and the other colours produced when different wavelengths are combined.
• The wavelength of visible light is measured in nanometres. There are 1,000,000,000 nanometres to a metre.

An electromagnetic wave carries electromagnetic radiation.

• An electromagnetic wave is formed as electromagnetic radiation propagates from a light source, travels through space and encounters different materials.
• Electromagnetic waves can be imagined as synchronised oscillations of electric and magnetic fields that propagate at the speed of light in a vacuum.
• Electromagnetic waves are similar to other types of waves in so far as they can be measured in terms of wavelength, frequency and amplitude.
• We can feel electromagnetic waves release their energy when sunlight warms our skin.
• Remember that electromagnetic radiation can be described either as an oscillating wave or as a stream of particles, called photons, which also travel in a wave-like pattern.
• The notion of waves is often used to describe phenomena such as refraction or reflection whilst the particle analogy is used when dealing with phenomena such as diffraction and interference.

The electromagnetic spectrum includes electromagnetic waves with all possible wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation, ranging from low energy radio waves through visible light to high energy gamma rays.

• There are no precisely defined boundaries between the bands of electromagnetic radiation in the electromagnetic spectrum.
• The electromagnetic spectrum includes, in order of increasing frequency and decreasing wavelength: radio waves, microwaves, infrared radiation, visible light, ultraviolet radiation, X-rays and gamma rays.
• Visible light is only a very small part of the electromagnetic spectrum.