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radiation(rā'dēā`shən), term applied to the emission and transmission of energy through space or through a material medium and also to the radiated energy itself. In its widest sense the term includes electromagnetic, acoustic, and particle radiation, and all forms of ionizing radiation. Commonly radiation refers to the electromagnetic spectrumspectrum,
arrangement or display of light or other form of radiation separated according to wavelength, frequency, energy, or some other property. Beams of charged particles can be separated into a spectrum according to mass in a mass spectrometer (see mass spectrograph).
..... Click the link for more information. , which, in order of decreasing wavelength, includes radio, microwave, infrared, visible-light, ultraviolet, X-ray, and gamma-ray emissions. All of these travel through space at the speed of light (c.300,000 km/186,000 mi per sec) but differ in wavelength and frequency. According to the quantum theoryquantum theory,
modern physical theory concerned with the emission and absorption of energy by matter and with the motion of material particles; the quantum theory and the theory of relativity together form the theoretical basis of modern physics.
..... Click the link for more information. , the energy carried in the form of electromagnetic radiationelectromagnetic radiation,
energy radiated in the form of a wave as a result of the motion of electric charges. A moving charge gives rise to a magnetic field, and if the motion is changing (accelerated), then the magnetic field varies and in turn produces an electric field.
..... Click the link for more information. may be viewed as made up of tiny bundles or packets, each bundle being known as a photonphoton
, the particle composing light and other forms of electromagnetic radiation, sometimes called light quantum. The photon has no charge and no mass. About the beginning of the 20th cent.
..... Click the link for more information. . The sun is the source of much radiant energy in the form of sunlight and heat. Heat radiation is infrared radiationinfrared radiation,
electromagnetic radiation having a wavelength in the range from c.75 × 10−6 cm to c.100,000 × 10−6 cm (0.000075–0.1 cm).
..... Click the link for more information. . All types of electromagnetic radiation can be reflected and absorbed in the same manner as is visible light. Acoustic radiation, propagated as sound waves, may be sonic (in the frequency range from 16 to 20,000 cycles per sec), infrasonic, or subsonic (frequency less than 16 cycles per sec), and ultrasonic (frequency greater than 20,000 cycles per sec). Examples of particle radiation are alpha and beta rays in radioactivityradioactivity,
spontaneous disintegration or decay of the nucleus of an atom by emission of particles, usually accompanied by electromagnetic radiation. The energy produced by radioactivity has important military and industrial applications.
..... Click the link for more information. , and many kinds of atomic and subatomic particles such as electrons, mesons, neutrons, protons, and heavier nuclei (see cosmic rayscosmic rays,
charged particles moving at nearly the speed of light reaching the earth from outer space. Primary cosmic rays consist mostly of protons (nuclei of hydrogen atoms), some alpha particles (helium nuclei), and lesser amounts of nuclei of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and
..... Click the link for more information. ). Radiation is usually considered to travel from a source in straight lines, but its path may be affected by external factors; for instance, charged particles travel in curved paths in magnetic fields. The Van Allen radiation beltsVan Allen radiation belts,
belts of radiation outside the earth's atmosphere, extending from c.400 to c.40,000 mi (c.650–c.65,000 km) above the earth. The existence of two belts, sometimes considered as a single belt of varying intensity, was confirmed from information
..... Click the link for more information. consist of charged particles trapped in the earth's magnetic field.
The emission and propagation of energy; also, the emitted energy itself. The etymology of the word implies that the energy propagates rectilinearly, and in a limited sense, this holds for the many different types of radiation encountered.
The major types of radiation may be described as electromagnetic, acoustic, and particle, and within these major divisions there are many subdivisions. Electromagnetic radiation is classified roughly in order of decreasing wavelength as radio, microwave, visible, ultraviolet, x-rays, and γ-rays. Acoustic or sound radiation may be classified by frequency as infrasonic, sonic, or ultrasonic in order of increasing frequency, with sonic being between about 16 and 20,000 Hz. The traditional examples of particle radiation are the α‒ and β-rays of radioactivity. See Electromagnetic radiation, Radioactivity, Sound
radiation(ray-dee-ay -shŏn) See electromagnetic radiation; energy transport.
ii. The transfer of energy in the form of electromagnetic waves through either a vacuum or air.