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  Introduction to electromagnetic waves


A Releasing Your Unlimited Creativity discussion topic

Copyright 2009 by K. Ferlic, † All Rights Reserved

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Electromagnetic waves are a phenomenon of nature first observed as light. Yet light, the part of the electromagnetic spectrum we normally sense without additional instrumentation, is only a very small portion of the infinite spectrum of electromagnetic waves. In many ways, electromagnetic waves are part of the unseen realm of Creation. That is, without changing how we observe Creation, we will not perceive their existence. Through the study of physics and engineering advances humanity has come to understanding and use these unseen waves in a variety of applications.

The light that comes from the sun or the light from a light bulb that allows us to read in an otherwise dark room is electromagnetic radiation. However, the electromagnetic vibrations that are possible extend well beyond what our eyes can perceive. Similarly, radio waves that we pick up on a radio as are the TV signals that are transmitted by our television station are also a form of this electromagnetic radiation.

The electromagnetic radiation actually exist in an infinite spectrum. Each point on the spectrum operates the same way except that each point of the spectrum has a different a different frequency. It is because the frequency is different, each of the waves interacts with Physical Creation differently. Nonetheless, each frequency of electromagnetic of radiation follows the same rules. In this regard, light is the same exact same phenomena as a TV or radio signal except that they differ in frequency and subsequently are detected differently. Light is perceive by eyes. But the frequency of radio to TV electromagnetic waves cannot be detected by us unless we have some type of receiver and energy of the waves converted to sound detected by our ears or as the contrast of light and dark created on a TV screen.

For those not familiar with electromagnetic radiation, the music and sound that we hear from musical instruments, or in fact, any noise are also energy waves and have a wave nature. The music and sounds that we hear functions very much like electromagnetic radiation. The only difference is that sound waves need a physical material such as air, in which to propagate or be transmitted or transported through to reach the person listening to the sound. Sound waves cannot be transmitted through a vacuum. For example the space between the earth and the sun is almost a vacuum.

When the wave nature of light was established in the 1800ís, physicists explained light waves the way they explained water waves. Light waves were seen analogous to a ripple on a pond created when we drop a pebble into the pond. In the same way a pebble dropped in water pushed the waterís surface to create a wave, pushing or accelerating an electron was seen as creating a wave in the electromagnetic field which permeated the universe. By using this water wave analogy, physicists in the 1800ís had to contend with explaining and describing the medium, or the material equivalent to the water. There had to be some in which these electromagnetic waves would be carried and propagated

What was discovered is that electromagnetic radiation however needs no physical material in which to propagate. As such, the light energy and other electromagnetic frequencies that come from the sun to light and heat the earth can travel through the vacuum as space. So too the light from the stars. Electromagnetic waves are propagated through the electromagnetic fields which permeate all of creation.

If we shine sunlight through a prism, we can see a facet of the electromagnetic spectrum as the light spreads out into its individual frequencies and give the characteristic rainbow. Although we say a rainbow consists of the seven colors of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet there are actually an infinite number of different shades of color between the darkest red at one end and the darkest violet at the other end. But this infinite spectrum extend to infinity beyond the darkest red and beyond the darkest violet. Some vibrate much faster and extend into and past the ultraviolet frequencies of radiation into very high energies and some vibrate much slower and extend into and below the infrared frequencies. There is a infinite number of electromagnetic frequencies that exist. The rainbow that we are capable of seeing with our eyes is only a very, very small fraction of all the electromagnetic frequencies that exist.

The electromagnetic radiation itself is created by causing a charged particle such as the negatively charged electron or positively charged proton that makes up the atoms of our body or the furniture on which we are sitting to be accelerated. Together the electron and proton form a neutral atom. When the electron and proton are separated, we can then observe the electronís negative charge and protonís positive charge. It is when these separated charges are accelerated that create that electromagnetic radiation is created.

A charged particle has an electric field surrounding it as a result of its charge. Moving a charged particle creates a magnetic field because of its motion. It is these two principles that we use to generate electricity in the generators found in power plants of our local electric utility and also generate electromagnetic waves such at that broadcast by the local TV station.

The acceleration of the charged particle is caused by applying a force and pushing or pulling on the charged particle. The push or pull causes it to speed up over time much the same way could push a ball across the floor of our house making it go faster and faster or press on the accelerator of our car as we speed away when the stop light changes green. As the particle is accelerated, the acceleration causes a disturbance or a change in the electric and magnetic field that exist around the charged particle. That change in the electric and magnetic filed causing an oscillation or vibration of these fields and these vibrations radiate outward in all directions.

This phenomena is much like dropping a pebble in calm pool of water. The force of the pebble on the surface of the water causes the water to be pushed down. As the pebble breaks through the surface the surface bounces back causing an oscillation that we observe as a ripple going out in all directions from where the pebble was dropped in the water. The ripple itself contains the energy. This energy was transferred by the pebble to the vibration of the water and as the vibration moving outward is what carries the energy. The rate at which the ripple vibrates up and down is called it frequency. Higher frequency means faster vibrations and the greater the energy. A lower frequency means slower vibrations and less energy.

The same kind of effect occurs in the electromagnetic field of space as a charge particle is accelerated. The charge particle being accelerated act as the pebble hitting the pond and the ripples on the pool of water is like the electromagnetic waves radiating outward from the vibration.

Now there were several additional interesting observations that has been about these electromagnetic waves that can act a waves or as particles. What has been observed is that these energy waves that ripple out in the electromagnetic fields from where the charge particle was accelerated can be see as, and will act as a packet of energy called a quantum of energy. These wave packets of energy or quanta act as particles having a form but have no rest mass for they are in the form of pure energy.

The particles of course are massless because they are energy. Yet they can be observed as if they have mass. One observation was that under the correct conditions, the electromagnetic radiation would undergo a phenomena called the Compton Effect named after the physicist who first theorized the existence of the phenomena, where the electromagnetic radiation had billiard ball collisions with electrons where the waves act as thought they are particles approximately equivalent to the electron. Yet the waves themselves, being energy had no rest mass. So this particle nature of energy has been demonstrated as being very real.

The second observation was that what determines whether the waves acts as a wave or a particle depending on environmental conditions, the energy itself, and the conditions under which we make our observation. The energy can appear as a wave or a particle by how we make our observation and we, the observer, can determine how we adjust the environment to allow us to see a wave or a particle.

If the observation that waves could act as particles was not interesting enough, because waves have a particle nature, there is an implication that particles with mass, such as you or the chair you are sitting on, could act as a wave under the correct conditions. In constructing very precise experiments, physicist were in fact able to observe that particles with rest mass can act as waves under the correct conditions. However our physical world does not normally allow us to observe this phenomena. This phenomena is again outside the range of our normal senses. Although we donít necessarily observe the phenomena, particles with rest mass nevertheless have a wave nature.

All these observation lead to the understanding of what is called the wave-particle duality. This principle states that energy or an energy wave has both a wave nature and a particle nature and particles, with or without a mass, also have a wave nature and a particle nature and it only depends on the environment condition as to which is observed. Another way of saying this is that how we choose to observe the energy will determined if it expresses itself as a wave or a particle.

This realization then lead to the understand that mass and energy are one and the same and they could be converted from one to the other under the correct conditions. That is, in fact, what we observe and has been the basis of the development of nuclear energy and nuclear technology. Why this is important to creativity is that the conversion of mass into energy and vice verse gives us a process where a particle with a rest mass is seemingly created out of nothing and it is observed in the phenomena call pair production.

Since each of us have a physical body with a rest mass, the phenomena of pair production is more of interest to us at this time as discussed in the topic, "Implication of Pair Production in our Creative Endeavors." The process of converting energy into particles without rest mass is something more associated with the origins of our thoughts and how thoughts seemingly arise out of nothing.

There are several points that need to be made about electromagnetic radiation. One is that the particle nature of energy is that particles have no rest mass and only exist when they are in motion. That is, they can only be experienced. We can hold on to them like we would collect marbles in a jar. We may contain the photons with the use of reflecting surfaces bouncing the light back an forth but we canít hold onto them in the way we hold on to particles with rest mass. They are to be experienced.

Another is that unless electromagnetic wave interacts with a material, it will pass thought a material. If we know or have some understanding of the energy contained in the electromagnetic radiation or it frequency, we can construct a detector that allows us to detect or absorb the radiation in question to see what information it contains.

A third is that knowing the energy of radiation we would like to produce, we can construct an arrangement of materials to radiate the energy we wish to create. Whether or not any of this radiation is perceived as particles depends entirely upon the environment in which we observe the energy. It is clear that the particle nature of light or energy and the wave nature of particles, depends on the environment of observation and what will be observed in a given environment is dependent on the nature of the energy and the environment in which it is observed and how we choose to observe it.

A bottom line understanding from the study of electromagnetic waves is that it is by how we focus our attention and awareness is what determines what particular frequencies we experience. If we form a habit or practice a pattern of focused awareness and attention that repeats the same pattern we will continually access the same frequencies of creation. Hence we create a given experience again and again. If, however, we learn to think differently, see differently and act differently, we can access realms of Creation and possibilities that our current mind has yet to understand.

Related topics
Wave particle nature of energy
Implication of Pair Production in our Creative Endeavors
Electromagnetic waves and the esoteric

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