Problem: The electromagnetic spectrum. Wavelengths in the spectrum range from very short gamma rays to very long radio waves.By how many orders of magnitude do the two waves differ in wavelength?

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The electromagnetic spectrum consists of a range of wavelengths such gamma rays, X-rays, ultraviolet, visible, etc.


Based on the energy of photons in these waves, different regions of the electromagnetic spectrum can have different interactions with matter.


For example, the photons in X-rays are energetic enough to break chemical bonds while photons in the infrared can only increase the vibrational energy of chemical bonds.


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Problem Details


The diagram shows the electromagnetic spectrum. Gamma rays have a wavelength of less than 10 to the power of negative 11 meters. X rays have a wavelength of between 10 to the power of negative 11 meters and 10 to the power of negative 8 meters. The ultraviolet region has a wavelength of between 10 to the power of negative 8 and 400 nanometers. The visible region is between 400 and 750 nanometers. The infrared region is between 750 nanometers and 5 times 10 to the power of negative 4 meters.  Microwaves have a wavelength of between 5 times 10 to the power of negative 4 meters and 10 to the power of negative 1 meters. The radio frequency region is more than 10 to the power of negative 1 meters.


The electromagnetic spectrum. Wavelengths in the spectrum range from very short gamma rays to very long radio waves.


By how many orders of magnitude do the two waves differ in wavelength?

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Based on our data, we think this problem is relevant for Professor Hatfield's class at UIC.