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The Physics of the Electromagnetic Spectrum or Radiant Energy *** Light, Heat, and Radiation.

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Presentation on theme: "The Physics of the Electromagnetic Spectrum or Radiant Energy *** Light, Heat, and Radiation."— Presentation transcript:


2 The Physics of the Electromagnetic Spectrum or Radiant Energy *** Light, Heat, and Radiation

3 Light = EM Spectrum The terms light, radiation, and electromagnetic wave are the same thing. Light comes in many forms. This is something that science did not understand until recently. X-rays, visible light, radio waves are all the same thing. They just look different. We only see visible light, but we have learned to make tools that let us see other types of light. Jupiter seen at different wavelengths of light

4 Key concepts: EM spectrum Visible light –ROY G BIV Light is fast and travels straight Light acts like a Wave & Particle Reflection/Refraction/Diffusion Opaque/translucent/transparent Primary colors Wavelength/Frequency/Amplitude


6 Visible Light

7 Isaac Newton (1642 – 1727) Christiaan Huygens ) The Fathers of the Science of Light



10 Light travels in a straight line from its source

11 Light travels in a straight line very fast, and forever Light is the fastest thing we know of in the universe. It sets the universal speed limit 186,000 miles per SECOND In the vacuum of space

12 That is 672,000,000 miles per hour

13 That is 5.879× ,879,000,000,000 or in regular numbers miles per year Five Trillion, eight hundred seventy nine billion

14 This is called a “light year” 5,879,000,000,000 miles is a common unit of astronomical distance measurement

15 Some interesting distances

16 Light also travels forever, and if its source is strong enough, we can see it.

17 The nearest star to our sun is Proxima Centauri It is 4.2 light-years distant in the constellation of Centaurus

18 Say hello to the super nova GRB B, the brightest and most distant object we know of in the universe.

19 “Astronomers have placed the star in the constellation Boötes. They have estimated it to be 7.5 billion light years away from Earth, meaning the explosion took place when the universe was less than half its current age and before Earth formed.”

20 It is calculated to be 2.5 million times brighter than the brightest supernova ever recorded before it.

21 GRB B is an example of how far light can travel and also of how vast the universe really is

22 Light has a strange combination of properties Light Acts Like a Wave It also acts like a stream of particles

23 Particle Stream

24 Waves Key concepts –Wavelength –Amplitude –Frequency These words have the same meaning as in the study of sound.

25 Frequency = number of waves that pass a point in a certain time We usually measure it in Cycles per Second or Hertz (Hz)

26 Wave Terminology Wavelength - distance between two like points on the wave Amplitude - the height of the wave compared to undisturbed state Period - the amount of time required for one wavelength to pass Frequency - the number of waves passing in a given amount of time

27 Light has Certain Behaviors Reflection Refraction Diffraction

28 LIGHT can be REFLECTED - Reflection is light bouncing off of a smooth shiny surface.

29 Reflection is Light Bouncing off a shiny surface A B X Y Angle A = Angle B and Angle X = Angle Y Angle of Incidence Angle of Reflectance

30 Light Can Be Bent Refraction (or bending) of light happens when light passes through transparent materials of different density



33 Refraction lets us make lenses

34 Diffraction – just a touch of information

35 White light is made of many wavelengths of light. Each wavelength is a different color of light. When they are all seen together, we see them as white light.

36 Each Wavelength Refracts differently

37 Because of this, refraction permits us to split white light into its colors ROYGBIVROYGBIV

38 Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Violet ROY G BV

39 “How Roy G. Bv Lost a Vowel The sequence of colors red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet may be remembered by memorizing the name of that fine fellow "ROY G. BV". This was originally "ROY G. BIV", because it used to be common to call the region between blue and violet "indigo". In modern usage, indigo is not usually distinguished as a separate color in the visible spectrum; thus Roy no longer has any vowels in his last name.”


41 "Laser" is an acronym for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation





46 Primary Colors of LIGHT not pigments Red Green Blue

47 The colors we see in objects are the colors that are reflected, all other colors are absorbed. A red t-shirt appears red because red is reflected to our eyes and the other colors are absorbed. When all colors are being reflected we see white light (white isn’t really a color)

48 When all wavelengths of light are being absorbed we see black (black also, isn’t really a color) A false-color image is made when the satellite records data about brightness of the light waves reflecting off the Earth's surface.

49 Diffusion When Light Hits Uneven Surfaces


51 Important Terms Opaque Translucent Transparent

52 The Rest of the Electromagnetic Spectrum

53 Microwaves

54 Infrared

55 UV

56 X-ray

57 The shortest and most dangerous radiation


59 Gamma ray burns from the Hiroshima bomb.

60 Understanding the EM Spectrum lets us See Thing in a Different Light.

61 The Sun at Different Wavelengths VisibleUltraviolet X-ray

62 Atoms and Light The movement of electrons inside of atoms produces light and other electromagnetic radiation. Sunlight produces every color in the rainbow but… Each element gives off only certain frequencies of light, called spectral lines. In effect each element has its own signature of spectral lines allowing us to identify which element we have or what stars are made of.

63 Below is a picture of the spectral lines given off by hydrogen. Note there are 3 different frequencies.

64 Key concepts: Waves and particles EM spectrum Visible light –ROYGBIV Reflection/Refraction/Diffusion Opaque/translucent/transparent Primary colors Wavelength/Frequency/Amplitude

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