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Electromagnetic Spectrum

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Cameron Bancroft

on 27 November 2012

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Transcript of Electromagnetic Spectrum

What is the electromagnetic spectrum ? The heat produced by the sun travels from the sun to the earth in the form of waves, and we know these waves as electromagnetic waves! The waves that reach earth come in all different sizes and scientists consider them to be a spectrum. We can see how the wave lengths vary by looking at the spectrum from largest to smallest. Before we really get into the electromagnetic spectrum, there are a few things you need to know. All the wave types you are about to see are forms of light! There is only one type of light we can actually see! What??? Can you think of any forms of light you cannot see? How about light waves we can listen to? Radio waves are the largest waves on the spectrum. They can be as small as a football or as large as our earth! We use radio waves everyday to watch television or to listen to music on the way to school. Can you think of one more way we use radio waves in our everyday life? Take a minute and fill in the radio wave section of the spectrum. Microwaves are next on the spectrum.

These waves are smaller than radio waves, but they still are pretty large compared to the rest of the waves on the electromagnetic spectrum. Microwaves have wavelengths that can be measured in centimeters! The longer microwaves, those closer to a foot in length, are the waves which heat our food in a microwave oven. Microwaves are also good for transmitting information from one place to another because microwave energy can penetrate haze, like light rain, snow, clouds, and smoke.
Shorter microwaves are used in remote sensing. These microwaves are used for radar like the Doppler radar used in weather forecasts. Microwaves, used for radar, are just a few inches long. Take a minute and fill in the microwave section of your spectrum. Infrared waves are the last of the big waves!

These waves are not even that big! Infrared waves at their largest are the size of pin head, and they can get down to the size of a cell!

Does anyone know an example of an infrared wave? Can infrared rays or waves can be felt?
Yes! These waves are felt by us every day! The heat you feel from the sun or from a warm fire are actually infrared waves!

Try placing your hand under the heat lamp! Radio waves, microwaves, and infrared waves are all larger type waves.

Can we see these waves?

Explain how we know these waves exist? How can we prove they are here? Visible light waves... FINALLY SOMETHING WE CAN SEE! Visible light is everywhere! This is the only type of wave on the entire electromagnetic spectrum that we can see. When we see light it appears white. This is because we are seeing all the colors or wave lengths combined. Below are the 7 main colors that when combined will give us the millions and billions of colors we can see. All the colors we will ever see are within this range. Take a look at the Spectrograph. This machine will take white light and separate the wave lengths into colors we can see. Take a minute and fill in the visible light section of your spectrum. Ultraviolet waves are another type of wave that are invisible to humans. Some insects, like bees, can see the waves.

We can also feel ultraviolet waves. Most UV waves are filtered out of earth's atmosphere, but some leak through and the ones that do can give us a burn. These burns are called sunburns.

There are some types of objects that react to ultraviolet light. These objects when hit by UV light appear to glow. Take a moment to fill out the ultraviolet part of your spectrum. Yep! An X-Ray is a type of light. Again we cannot see it but we can use a special type of film to use it to our advantage. This is a picture of our sun taken with a UV camera! We can use it to see broken bones because the waves will not penetrate dense objects like bone; however, they have no problem going through flesh. This means that we are actually seeing a type of shadow of the bone or object We don't just use X-rays to see broken bones, we can also use them to see objects in outer space like black holes!


Ultraviolet waves are small, but x-ray waves make them look huge! These waves are the second smallest on the electromagnetic spectrum. The last type of light wave is called the gamma ray, or wave. This type of wave is very small. They are so small that we have to study them outside of the earths atmosphere and have only been able to study them since the 1960s

Gamma waves or rays can actually kill living cells. This sounds scary but scientists have found a way to harness this ability to save lives. By concentrating gamma rays we can use them to kill cancer cells. Gamma rays are the most energetic type of light. They are still being researched and new discoveries are being made about them.

This is a picture of what the night sky and the moon would look like if we could see Gamma waves. Please take the last few minutes to finish up your spectrum.
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