Radio waves are one of the most important discoveries humans have ever made when it comes to our ability to communicate with one another. It allows us to speak through mobile phones, use Wi-Fi, and even watch television. When you turn on the radio in your vehicle, you’re actually picking up radio waves that are in the air around you.
1. It Tickles the Electromagnetics
Radio waves are often thought of as sound waves because they transmit sounds that can be heard. Over the radio, you can hear your favorite songs and sing along when you’re stuck in traffic. In reality, radio waves are actually electromagnetic waves that are created when a magnetic field is joined with an electric field. These waves can travel very fast. They carry sounds, but actually travel faster than the speed of sound.
2. Some Cool Relatives
There are many different kinds of electromagnet waves that exist today and they’re all relatives of the radio waves. Microwaves, sunlight, remote controls, radar systems, and even Bluetooth technology all work because of electromagnetic waves. The difference in the radio wave is that the receiver of the waves can convert them into electrical signals and then the radio circuit turns that signal into a sound wave. That’s why you can hear someone talking through a radio, even if you’re in the middle of nowhere.
3. It’s the Real Internet
Many call the internet an archive of the human experience and to some extent that is a true observation. Radio waves, however, are believed to be able to travel on forever unless there is something that is able to absorb them. Because they are believed to all travel at the speed of light, there could be radio waves that have communicated our existence to other inhabited worlds nearly 100 light years away. What would an alien race think about hearing an advertisement for Ovaltine?
4. Just Like a Rubber Ball
Radio waves are unique for their ability to “skip” off of items. If something doesn’t absorb the waves and there isn’t a receiver for them, then they will literally bounce off of the object they encounter. This means that radio waves can bounce off of a cloud, the ground, or pretty much anything else as long as the item is an electric conductor. If it isn’t a conductor, that radio waves can go through wood, concrete, and other materials.
5. They Are Long – Super Long
Waves come in different shapes based on their frequencies. When you turn to a different radio station, what you’re doing is turning to a different frequency. Although there are variations in each frequency, all of the radio waves that are surrounding you every day have one thing in common with each other: they are the longest waves of the electromagnetic spectrum. Any frequency that is below 300 GHz is generally considered to be a radio wave. The longest wavelengths can be over 62,000 miles long.
6. A Perfect Telescope
When trying to explore deeper into the universe, scientists are generally limited to the amount of information they can obtain with traditional sight-based methods of exploration. The human eye is blocked by solid objects since no one has evolved the ability to have x-ray or radio vision. That’s why scientists use telescopes that are based on radio frequencies. This allows them to explore beyond what can be seen to understand more about the natural radio sources that can be found.
7. Keeping You Warm in Winter
There have been a lot of concerns over the years about what the long-term exposure to radio waves can do to the human body. Most of the focus tends to be around the microwave frequencies. These frequencies create radiation that is absorbed by the tissues in the body. When radio waves encounter living tissue, it begins to heat it up. This is why large radar transmitters must be avoided when they are active. As for using your cellular phone or microwave, the only place of susceptible damage seems to be the eye. The next time you talk with someone on your phone, don’t press the cell phone up to your eyeball and you should be fine.
8. It’s Totally Cosmic
Using radio waves for scientific study has allowed scientists to discover a numerous amount of incredible things. One of the most outstanding discoveries is that of cosmic background radiation. This is the radiation that has existed since the very formation of the universe itself. Not only does this allow scientists the opportunity to calculate just how old the universe happens to be, it could give humanity a glimpse into what existed before our universe may have existed.
9. Now That’s Some Bass
Lower frequencies are stronger than their higher frequency counterparts and they are less susceptible to bouncing. This means that they are the perfect communication medium for long distance conversations. Add in the fact that very little power is required to generate these low frequency waves and you’ve got the perfect tool to use to speak with submarines and other people who might be underwater. Instead of bouncing off the waves, the frequencies penetrate deeply into the water and other thicker materials that would normally resist radio waves.
10. Thousands of Waves Per Month
When you send a text message from your phone, what you’re really doing is sending a radio wave. That wave is sent to a tower, which is then sent to the phone of a recipient and it all happens almost instantaneously, even if you’re on the other side of the world from the person with who you are communicating. That means the average teenager is generating thousands of unique radio waves every month thanks to their awesome texting skills.
Without radio waves, our lives would be very different. We can even use radio waves to speak with the Voyager craft that have gone beyond the outer boundaries of our solar system. They are an amazing discovery and have undoubtedly changed the course of human history.