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Electromagnetic Spectrum

Electromagnetic Spectrum

Author: Nathan Lampson

This lesson will introduce the electromagnetic spectrum and the properties and uses of the waves it contains.

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The electromagnetic spectrum is composed of the different wavelengths used to classify electromagnetic radiation.  Electromagnetic radiation is a form of wave-like energy.  The electromagnetic spectrum is arranged from large wavelengths of energy to small wavelengths of energy.  The shorter the wavelength a type of electromagnetic radiation has, the greater the amount of energy it contains.


Radio Waves

Radio waves have the longest wavelength on the electromagnetic spectrum.  

Radio stations use radio waves to transmit signals to your radio.  



Microwaves are shorter wavelengths than radio waves.

Microwaves are the form of electromagnetic radiation used to heat food in microwave ovens.


Infrared Waves

Infrared waves are also known as infrared light.  Skin emits infrared light, which makes people visible through night vision goggles.


Visible Waves

Visible waves of electromagnetic radiation make up all of the colors that humans are able to see with the eye.

Visible light is used by humans in order to view objects around us.


Ultraviolet Waves

Ultraviolet waves are shorter wavelengths than visible light waves and contain more energy.  Ultraviolet wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation are the cause of sunburn.  UV rays are produced by stars, which is why people get sunburnt when they are in the sun for too long.



X-rays have even more energy and shorter wavelengths than ultraviolet waves.  X-rays are used by health professionals to look at bones and teeth.



Gamma-rays are the shortest wavelength electromagnetic radiation and contain the most energy.  Nuclear power can be a source of gamma-rays.

Electromagnetic Spectrum