Meggers, William F. Formerly, National Bureau of Standards.
Watson, William W. Formerly, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.
- Additional Readings
The term spectrum is applied to any class of similar entities or properties strictly arrayed in order of increasing or decreasing magnitude. In general, a spectrum is a display or plot of intensity of radiation (particles, photons, or acoustic radiation) as a function of mass, momentum, wavelength, frequency, or some other related quantity. For example, a beta-particle spectrum represents the distribution in energy or momentum of negative electrons emitted spontaneously by certain radioactive nuclides, and when radionuclides emit alpha particles, they produce an alpha-particle spectrum of one or more characteristic energies. A mass spectrum is produced when charged particles (ionized atoms or molecules) are passed through a mass spectrograph in which electric and magnetic fields deflect the particles according to their charge-to-mass ratios. The distribution of sound-wave energy over a given range of frequencies is also called a spectrum. See also: Mass spectroscope; Sound
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