Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Full Spectrum

Often, when people get excited, they run around, jump up and down, and shout without making a whole lot of sense. But when atomic particles get excited, they can produce energy that is radiated at a variety of wavelengths. In contrast to the babble of an excited human throng, this electromagnetic radiation can tell you a lot, if you have the instruments to interpret it.
Our eyes, one such instrument, can interpret electromagnetic radiation in the 400 to 700 nanometer (or 4000 to 7000 Angstrom) wavelength range. A nanometer (abbreviated nm) is one billionth of a meter, or 10–9 meter. An Angstrom (abbreviated A) is 10 times smaller, or 10–10 meter. But that is only a small part of the spectrum. What about the rest of the “keyboard”?

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