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Radio waves to gamma particle question

  1. Aug 7, 2013 #1
    Hi all, so iv'e been looking around and can't find an answer to a question i have. I have read articles on wikipedia and understand the "basics", but i still cannot fully visualize the concept.

    Question: Do all frequencies on the em spectrum emit the same particles? i know that visible "light" is photons but do radio waves emit particles? or do they just interact with other particles in space/on earth? do xrays just emit radiation, is that there equivalent to photons ? basically what are the driving forces behind the phenomena, at the visibly, detectable level,

    I am aware that light is both wave and particle, and that its frequency is directly proportional to its energy but i just need to asak.

    Cheers !!!
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 7, 2013 #2


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    Let's be a bit careful of our words here. EM wave does NOT "emit" photons/particles.

    EM waves are "made up" of these photons. I have to use that "made up" process due to lack of a better description. For example, water waves are made up of a lot of water molecules. One can naively think of EM waves that way, that they consist of lots and lots of photons.

    ALL EM waves, be it gamma or radio waves, can be described by that picture. Whenever it is convenient to do that all the time is debatable.

  4. Aug 7, 2013 #3

    ohh crud thats right, so radio waves are "made up" of photons as are UV and gamma and the rest?
  5. Aug 7, 2013 #4


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    You could re-state that as "radio waves can be treated as if they consist of particles when they interact with matter". They behave as waves on the way from A to B - so why not say they're waves in that stage of their existence?
  6. Aug 7, 2013 #5
    all EM spectrum consists of the same photons , the only thing that changes is the frequency and intensity.
    Frequency is the measure of the wavelength and is a property of each individual photon emitted at that particular frequency , the smaller the wavelength the more energetic the photon.
    Now intensity is how much of those photons at a particular frequency are emitted.

    If we would make an analogy about rain we could say that the wavelength is the strength of each individual rain drop and intensity is how much of those rain drops we have.
    As you probably have seen there can be alot of slow rain and also there can be a small portion of high velocity rain drops which make a lot of noise when hitting cars and pavements.
  7. Aug 7, 2013 #6
    Certainly radio waves' quantum description is in terms of photons as it is for light, UV, x and gamma rays. There is only the experimental problem of detecting radio waves photons, which I think it has not been solved yet.
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