Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Electromagnetic wave

  1. Jan 6, 2005 #1
    Can someone please explain what an electromagnetic wave would look like. I've heard it being decribed as a massless particle but i dont think that is an accurate description.

    I am asking about the proportions of the wave so that i can visualize it in my mind.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 7, 2005 #2
    Well, it's not like you can study an E-M wave under a microscope. An alternating electric and magnetic field may be the best you can do.

    http://www.colorado.edu/physics/2000/waves_particles/ [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  4. Jan 7, 2005 #3
    http://imagers.gsfc.nasa.gov/ems/waves2.html [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  5. Jan 7, 2005 #4
    I like to think of them as photons with very very little mass, that move really fast, and all objects travel in a wave so they are photons that tavel in wave.

    It has been proved that electrons are waves through diffraction and such, and their mass has also been calculated, also moving electrons (electricity) excite various things, by this logic I say that photons are moving particles that behave as waves because they diffract, have an even smaller mass, and excite other things, such as electrons or the thingies in our eyes.
  6. Jan 7, 2005 #5


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    The picture at the bottom of that page would be more accurate if

    1. the vector arrows stayed in the same locations, but got longer and shorter (or thicker/thinner or darker/lighter, depending on what you're using to represent the strength of the field) as time passes.

    2. the vector arrows filled the entire volume instead of existing only in two perpendicular planes. (but that would make for a really messy-looking diagram!)
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook