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The Electromagnetic Spectrum
Wave typical
AM radio102m1 MHz10-9 eV
FM, TV1 m100 MHz10-7 eV
Radar.1m1000 MHz10-6 eV
Microwaves10-2m1010 Hz10-5 eV
Infrared10-5m1013 Hz10-2 eV
Visible light10-7m1015 Hz1 eV
Ultraviolet10-8m1016 Hz10 eV
X-rays10-10m1018 Hz1 keV
γ-rays10-13m1021 Hz1 MeV

The electromagnetic spectrum is the entire range of electromagnetic radiation extending in frequency from zero Hertz to 1023 cycles per second (or Hertz).[1]

Longer wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation such as used in AM radio have lower frequencies (540 to 1600 KHz). FM radio has much shorter wavelengths and higher frequencies (88 to 108 MHz).

Even higher frequencies give as microwave radiation, used in radar and cooking. Still higher is infrared (which can keep food warm from a lamp or heat up your skin from sunlight or fire). Infrared is used in "black light" photography.

Next highest in frequency (and lower in wavelengths) is visible light: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.

Ultraviolet light can give you a suntan (or burn), and too much of certain UV frequencies can increase one's risk of skin cancer. Some frequencies are blocked by the Earth's ozone layer.

Even higher frequencies include X-rays and gamma rays. Both are known to be hazardous because of their ability to pass through, and cause damage to, flesh and organs.[2]

More colloquially, the spectrum is simply the range of electromagnetic radio frequencies used in the transmission of sound, data and television.


  1. http://science.nasa.gov/newhome/help/glossfig1.htm
  2. http://www.epa.gov/radiation/understand/gamma.html
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