O Level Physics Notes: Electromagnetic Waves

Visible light is just one part of a very large family of electromagnetic waves Most electromagnetic waves require specialised equipment to detect, but they all have certain properties in common:

They are all transverse waves. The waves consist of tiny vibrating electric and magnetic fields, vibrating up and down and sideways as the wave moves along.

Electromagnetic waves can all travel in a vacuum. In a vacuum they all travel at the same speed of

Like all waves, electromagnetic waves transfer energy from one place to another.

As the wavelength of the waves increases the energy of the wave decreases – towards the right in the diagram below. Each type of wave has several uses. One use of each is illustrated.

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