Physics 2000 Science Trek Electromagnetic Waves

Electromagnetic Waves

What are electromagnetic waves ?

Light, microwaves, x-rays, and TV and radio transmissions are all kinds of electromagnetic waves. They are all the same kind of wavy disturbance that repeats itself over a distance called the wavelength.

The different names refer to different wavelengths, as shown in the demo below. Use the mouse to move the slider and change the wavelength. Drawings are not to scale.

I know what water waves are, but here there is no water! So what's the wave made of?

The wave, or "disturbance," is in an invisible thing called the electric force field. To understand electric forces, we have to learn something about charged particles like electrons and protons. Without these charged particles, there can be no electric force fields and thus no electromagnetic waves.

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