What “is” a radio signal-?

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by watchingfromafar, Aug 25, 2018.

  1. watchingfromafar
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    watchingfromafar Silver Member

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    I know we know how to detect a radio signal.

    I know we know how to send a radio signal.

    I know a radio signal can travel through a vacuum.

    I know a radio signal can travel through a solid object.

    But this does not tell me what a radio signal “IS”.

    Anybody have a clue?
     
  2. Mousterian
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    Mousterian Gold Member

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    'Radio' waves are simply a small part of the electromagnetic spectrum, like visible light, or microwaves.
    We categorize these sections of the spectrum to indicate, basically, how we detect them.
    various parts of the spectrum interact differently with the medium through which they pass.
    Thus, 'visible light' will pass through things we see as 'transparent', but not through a lot of other stuff.
    Similarly, 'radio' waves will pass through lots of media, but not others.
    But the bottom line, as far as we are concerned, is that radio waves are 'light' that we can't see with our eyes.
    You'll need to get in to a physics study to learn why these things happen.
     
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  3. Mousterian
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    Mousterian Gold Member

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    [​IMG]
     
  4. flacaltenn
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    flacaltenn Senior Mod Staff Member Senior USMB Moderator Gold Supporting Member

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    It's in a class of energy called Electromagnetic Radiation. It is more "radiation" than it is physical. Light is also also ElectroMagnetic radiation and is often shown on the SAME graphs with "radio waves". Because they all obey roughly the same rules of propagation thru space and the atmosphere.

    Just like light, radio waves are characterized by their frequency and wavelength. And both can focused and directed (in different ways) to change their concentration and direction. That's the function of lenses and gratings for light and antennas for radio waves.

    Because the energy in a radio wave is "self contained" in both a magnetic and electrical charge package, there is no need for a "medium" to transport it in vacuums or space unlike sound waves which are simple compression of other physical mediums (air, water, etc) and depend on those mediums to travel.
     
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  5. Mousterian
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    Mousterian Gold Member

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    Interestingly, plants use pretty much the same tiny slice of the electromagnetic spectrum to fuel their biology.
    This points to the fact that we are descended from the same primitive life forms as plants.
    Not only descended from apes, but, ultimately, related to cabbages...
     
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  6. Crepitus
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    Crepitus Gold Member

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    It's an electromagnetic wave.
     
  7. james bond
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    james bond Silver Member

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    Let there be light = EMS.
     
  8. watchingfromafar
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    watchingfromafar Silver Member

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    I thought "light" was a product of photons.

    as in---
    The photon is the fundamental particle of visible light.

    In some ways, visible light behaves like a wave phenomenon, but in other respects it acts like a stream of high-speed, submicroscopic particles. Isaac Newton was one of the first scientists to theorize that light consists of particles. Modern physicists have demonstrated that the energy in any electromagnetic field is made up of discrete packets. The term photon (meaning "visible-light particle") was coined for these energy packets. Particle-like behavior is not restricted to the visible-light portion of the electromagnetic radiation spectrum, however. Radio waves, infrared rays, visible light, ultraviolet rays, X rays, and gamma rays all consist of photons, each of which contains a particular amount of energy that depends on the wavelength.
    What is photon? - Definition from WhatIs.com

    A photon has mass; a radio wave does not.
     
  9. watchingfromafar
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    watchingfromafar Silver Member

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    I am trying to understand that. An electromagnetic wave has mass. It has negitive and positive poles whereas radio waves have neither. I am still no closer to understanding what a radio signal "is".
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2018
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