The Electromagnetic Spectrum
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  • Introduction
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The diagram below shows The Electromagnetic Spectrum:

 


 

It is a family of waves. Waves have the following properties: amplitude, wavelength, frequency and speed. Study the diagrams below, as some questions in this worksheet will be about the properties of waves. The speed of a wave is calculated using the following formula:

wave speed = frequency x wavelength

 

 


The Electromagnetic Spectrum is actually radiation emitted from the nucleus of an atom.The wavelength decreases as we go towards the gamma ray end of the spectrum. Gamma radiation and X-rays are used for screening, diagnosis and therapy. They are both very penetrating and can pass through the body to treat internal organs. Nuclear radiation increases the risk of cancer due to causing ionisation, which means it changes the structure of atoms and, hence, living cells. However, it can be used to kill tumour cells after they are exposed to it with radiotherapy; for example, using Cobalt-60: a very radioactive material that emits gamma radiation. It is also used to sterilise medical equipment.


When exposing tumour cells in the body to kill them, there is a danger of destroying healthy tissue, too. Therefore, treatment is set up in such a way, so as to constantly send a large dose of radiation to the tumour, but to only send intermittent, smaller doses to the surrounding healthy tissue.


Technetium-99m and Iodine-123 are two radioactive materials used for screening.


Microwaves are used for heating and cooking food, mobile phones, satellite TV and long distance communication. They penetrate about 1cm into the outer layers of food. Microwave aerials are located on high buildings, because transmitters and receivers have to be in 'line of sight'. Satellite dishes are microwave receivers which deliver satellite television channels. Satellites orbiting the Earth are in line of sight with a huge aerial on the ground, which handles a great number of phone calls and television pictures at the same time.


Infrared signals are used to make remote controls, wireless computer mice and security alarm sensors. Radiowaves are also useful for wireless technology and the radio. They are reflected off solid surfaces, so sometimes provide signals in hard to reach areas. Light has many uses, including communication, and can be sent with just a torch. This type of signal needs to be decoded. Visible light is the light from the Sun or even artificial light bulbs, which helps us see what is around us and the different colours. We can only see the visible part of the Electromagnetic Spectrum, but none of the other waves.

  • Question 1
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What do we call the family of waves that have many uses in our lives?

electromagnetism

electromagnetic spectrum

light spectrum

  • Question 2
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How would you describe the ampitude of a wave?

half the distance between the crest and the trough of a wave

half the distance between two identical points of a wave

half the distance between two waves

  • Question 3
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What part of the Electromagnetic Spectrum has the smallest wavelength?

infrared

gamma

visible light

  • Question 4
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Tick the two most penetrating rays that are used to treat internal organs.

X rays

radiowaves

infrared

gamma

microwaves

  • Question 5
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What is the name of the process that uses radiation to kill cancer cells?

  • Question 6
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Tick three radioactive materials used in medicine.

Carbon-14

Uranium-325

Cobalt-60

Technetium-99m

Iodine-123

Plutonium-7

  • Question 7
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How do radiologists ensure that healthy tissue is not damaged during radiotherapy, but tumour cells are killed? Tick two boxes.

they only send small, intermittent doses to the surrounding tissue

they send the radiation and hope the surrounding tissue is not damaged

they send a large dose of radiation to the tumour

they protect the surrounding tissue with paper

  • Question 8
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Tick three uses of microwaves.

cooking food

satellite TV

radio

coded light signals

mobile phones

treating cancer

  • Question 9
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What type of radiation is used for remote controls?

radiotherapy

gamma

infrared

  • Question 10
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What is visible light?

infrared and ultraviolet radiation

the part of the Electromagnetic Spectrum that we can see

small wavelength radiation

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