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Frequency Definition

Frequency is the number of waves passing a point per second. For example, higher frequency X-rays transfer more energy.

View Lesson on Electromagnetic Spectrum
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Electromagnetic Spectrum

Fun Facts

  • As you move along the electromagnetic spectrum from radio to gamma waves, the frequency increases.
  • High-frequency waves, like gamma waves, transfer more energy than low-frequency waves, like radio waves.
  • The wavelength and frequency of a wave are inversely related to one another, so increasing wavelength decreases frequency.

Why Do We Need To Know About Frequency

Learning about frequency helps us know how things like WiFi and microwaves work. Frequency is what makes these devices do their jobs, like letting us use the internet without wires and heating our food quickly. This idea of frequency is important because it makes a lot of our everyday technology work smoothly.

Frequency is also key in important areas like health care and space exploration. For example, doctors use it to see inside our bodies without surgery through MRI scans, and scientists study stars and planets with it. So, understanding frequency helps us make new tech, keep people healthy, and learn more about the universe.

Frequently Asked Questions

Microwaves are very efficient at heating water, but all electromagnetic waves can cause matter to heat up. Why is this?
All electromagnetic waves transfer energy. When this energy is absorbed by matter, it is converted into heat because it causes the particles in the matter to vibrate more rapidly.
Why do some electromagnetic waves have more energy than others?
The main pattern observed in the electromagnetic spectrum is that waves with shorter wavelengths and higher frequencies have higher energy. For a wave of a given wavelength, amplitude is also related to energy. So a visible light wave with a higher amplitude would have greater energy and be observed to have a higher intensity.
Name some different types of electromagnetic waves. What do they all have in common? How are they different?
Electromagnetic waves include radio waves, microwaves, infrared waves, visible light, ultraviolet light, X-rays, and gamma rays. All electromagnetic waves transfer energy. They all travel the same speed (i.e., the “speed of light”). The different waves along the spectrum differ in their wavelength, frequency, and energy. As you move from radio to gamma waves, wavelength decreases, frequency increases, and energy increases.
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