What is an Electromagnetic Spectrum? (GCSE Physics)

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  • Created on: 31-05-13 10:31
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What is an electromagnetic spectrum?
The electromagnetic spectrum is a family of waves with a large number of common properties.
Can travel through a vacuum
Travel at the same speed through a vacuum i.e. the speed of light.
Are transverse waves
Transfer energy
Can be reflected ,absorbed ,transmitted ,refracted and diffracted
Some of the properties of these waves change as their wavelength and frequency changes. The family is
therefore divided into seven small groups.
What are these different properties used for? What are their Dangers?
Radio waves > This property is used in TV's and Radio's. Large doses of radio waves are
believed to cause cancer, leukaemia and other disorders.
Microwaves > This property is used in Mobile Phones. Prolonged exposure to microwaves is
known to cause "cataracts" in your eyes, which is a clouding of the lens, preventing you from
seeing clearly (if at all!) Recent research indicates that microwaves from mobile phones can
affect parts of your brain after all, you're holding the transmitter right by your head.
Infrared> This property is used in the TV remote control. The danger is overheating from too
much InfraRed radiation.
Visible Light > Is used to see things. The danger is too much light can damage the retina in
your eye. This can happen when you look at something very bright, such as the Sun. Although
the damage can heal, if it's is too bad it'll be permanent.
Ultraviolet > This is used in Fake Tan studios. The Dangers are large doses of UV can
damage the retina in your eyes, so it's important to check that your sunglasses will block UV
light but also can cause sunburn and even skin cancer. Fortunately, the ozone layer in the
Earth's atmosphere screens us from most of the UV given off by the Sun.
XRays > This property is used to look inside people without cutting into them. The Danger is
XRays can cause cell damage and cancers. This is why Radiographers in hospitals stand
behind a shield when they Xray their patients. Although the dose is not enough to put the patient
at risk, they take many images each day and could quickly build up a dangerous dose

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Gamma Rays > This property is used to Kill Cancer Cells. The Dangers of Gamma rays
are they cause cell damage and can cause a variety of cancers. They can cause mutations in
growing tissues, so unborn babies are especially vulnerable.…read more


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