Baird, Christopher S. Department of Chemistry and Physics, West Texas A&M University, Canyon, Texas.
Last reviewed:June 2019
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- Types of electromagnetic radiation
- The emission of electromagnetic radiation
- Linear acceleration
- Centripetal acceleration
- Thermal motion
- Oscillatory motion
- Particle-antiparticle annihilation
- The nature of electromagnetic radiation
- Additional Readings
Electromagnetic field fluctuations that form quantized traveling waves and the manner in which they are created. Electromagnetic radiation is also referred to as electromagnetic waves, photons, and light (Fig. 1). Electromagnetic radiation consists of fluctuating electric field and magnetic field components that form self-propagating, traveling waves. As they travel, these waves transport energy, momentum, and information. These waves are fundamentally quantum in nature, meaning that each wave is composed of indivisible packets of radiation called photons. As used in this context, the word “radiation” refers only to the fact that these waves travel. It does not necessarily indicate that these waves are harmful. Of the various frequencies of electromagnetic radiation, only extreme ultraviolet rays, x-rays, and gamma rays can directly cause mutation, cancer, and radiation sickness. These forms of high-energy radiation are known as ionizing radiation. See also: Cancer; Electromagnetic field; Electromagnetic wave; Electromagnetism; Energy; Gamma ray; Ionization; Light; Momentum; Mutation; Photon; Quantum mechanics; Radiation; Radiation injury to plants and animals; Ultraviolet radiation; Wave optics; X-ray
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