Wavelength & the EM Spectrum
Wavelength & the EM Spectrum
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About the diagram
About the diagram
- This diagram shows that the electromagnetic spectrum includes waves with all possible wavelengths of radiation.
- Wavelengths range from low energy radio waves through visible light to high energy gamma rays.
- Waves with longer wavelengths have a lower frequency and carry less energy.
- Waves with shorter wavelengths have a higher frequency and carry more energy.
- 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.
- There are no precisely defined boundaries between the bands of electromagnetic radiation in the electromagnetic spectrum.
- Visible light is only a very small part of the electromagnetic spectrum.
- Energy (electromagnetic energy) is the radiant energy (light) transported by electromagnetic waves.
- The term light can be used in three different ways:
- Light can be used to mean the whole of the electromagnetic spectrum from radio waves, through visible light to gamma rays. A better term is radiant energy or photon energy.
- Light can be used to mean the range of wavelengths and frequencies that can be detected by the human eye. A better term is visible light which refers to the wavelengths that correspond with the colours between red and violet, the visible spectrum.
- Light can be used to mean the range of wavelengths and frequencies between infra-red and ultra-violet. This usage is useful because the outer limits of the visible spectrum change under different lighting conditions and for different individuals.
- Referring to visible light simply as light is short-hand.
- Visible light is not the same for all living things.
Some key terms
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