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Please Help, Electromagnetic waves and their collision

  1. Sep 12, 2013 #1
    Hello everyone, My Name is Dwayne McIntosh.

    I am not that good at Physics or Mathematics however i do have a problem.

    I was brainstorming the other day and i wanted to know, what if one was to use say electromagnetic waves (may be different wavelength,frequency or Photon Energy, but with the same property;passing through solid objects) and make them collide, would the collision produce heat?

    I hope this is not a dumb question

    If yes, then how do i calculate that heat energy
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 12, 2013 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    It's easy to get heat by passing electromagnetic waves through a solid material - that's what a microwave oven does. However, in that case the the heat is produced by the microwaves acting on the molecules of the material, not by the the waves colliding with each other.

    Electromagnetic radiation doesn't collide with itself; if you set up two waves and send them towards one another they just meet and quietly pass through each other. Neither one is changed by the presence of the other one.
  4. Sep 13, 2013 #3
    Electromagnetic waves like any other waves undergo interference when they come across each other,while they behave as photons of non-zero momentum when they come across matter.EM waves do not collide with each other they just continue to propagate in the same direction when they interfere but at the point of interference the intensity of light is given based on the phase of each wave.EM waves can produce heat when they come across matter which is why you can burn something with a laser.If you put an object at the point of interference then the heat produced will again depend upon the phase of the two interacting waves.You can think of this as what happens when two ripples meet on the surface of water.
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