# Learning about the electromagnetic spectrum, there is this question in my assignment: How do we differentiate between the different types of electromagnetic waves?  I'm not sure if the answer is...

Learning about the electromagnetic spectrum, there is this question in my assignment: How do we differentiate between the different types of electromagnetic waves?

I'm not sure if the answer is right in front of me but i would appreciate any help.

ishpiro | Certified Educator

The different types of electromagnetic waves have different frequency and wavelength. They all propagate with the same speed. In the vacuum, this is the speed of light, which is c = 3*10^8 m/s, and it is smaller in other media such as water. (In media other than vacuum, the speed of propagation might also depend on frequency, which explains why we see a rainbow.)

The relationship between the frequency (f) and the wavelength (  `lambda` ) is

`lambda = c/f`

The wavelength and the frequency are inversely proportional, so the greater the frequency, the shorter the wavelength, and vice versa.

Please see the reference link for the description of various types of electromagnetic waves. It also has an interactive feature that converts wavelength into frequency.

The radio waves are on the low-frequency, large wavelength end of the electromagnetic spectrum, followed by microwaves and infrared light. The visible light (the only part of the spectrum we can see, with each color having a different frequency and wavelength) has frequencies of the magnitude of 10^14 Hz (1/s), and wavelengths of the magnitude of 10^(-7) meters. On the high-frequency, small-wavelengths end, there are X-rays and gamma-rays.

However, again, they all propagate with the same speed - speed of light - in the vacuum.