Do the various forms of EM radiation vary in speed, amplitude, and frequency?

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caledon eNotes educator| Certified Educator


Electromagnetic (EM) radiation is classified into a variety of categories that roughly correspond to certain properties, some of which are more arbitrary than others. This benefits humans because it allows us to understand and investigate how the natural world operates more precisely. The properties of amplitude and frequency are related to the behavior of waves, and EM radiation shares some similarities with waves, though the analogy is less than perfect.

Amplitude describes the "height" of each wave, and roughly corresponds to the intensity. In terms of light, this would describe the number of photons per unit time that are in a certain region, but this has nothing to do with the way the radiation is classified.

Frequency describes "waves per second," or basically, how many waves would strike a certain location in a given amount of time. In terms of light, however, this is a fixed value, because light always travels at the same speed, so the various categories of light can be defined according to their frequency. This also invalidates the final statement, that categories are defined by the speed of their radiation. To sum up, two out of three statements are incorrect.