Dictionary > Electromagnetic radiation

Electromagnetic radiation

The radiation that consists of associated, interacting electric and magnetic field waves traveling at the speed of light


In physics, radiation pertains to the emission of energy in the form of waves through space and it may be in the form of electromagnetic radiation, particle radiation, acoustic radiation, and gravitational radiation. The electromagnetic radiation is the radiation released in the form of electromagnetic waves. The distance between successive crests is called the wavelength. The electromagnetic spectrum pertains to the entire range of wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation. It includes gamma rays, X-rays, UV, visible light, infrared, microwaves, and radio waves. The gamma rays have the shortest wavelength (less than a nanometer) whereas the radio waves have the longest (more than a kilometer). The length of the wavelength is inversely proportional to the amount of energy. That means as the shorter the wavelength, the greater is the amount of energy. Not all of the electromagnetic radiation from the sun reaches the surface of the earth. The atmosphere serves as a filter preventing the passage of a substantial fraction of solar radiation. The visible light, though, is able to reach the earth’s surface. It is the most essential form as it is important in photosynthesis and is responsible for the sense of sight. Nevertheless, other forms of electromagnetic radiation that normally cannot reach the earth’s surface have been made available by men through modern technology. However, exposure to these electromagnetic energies brings biological implications. (Ref. 1)

Abbreviation / Acronym:

  • EM radiation
  • EMR

See also:


  1. Electromagnetic Radiation Factsheet: view on health. (2019, October 8). Building Biology Institute. https://buildingbiologyinstitute.org/free-fact-sheets/electromagnetic-radiation/

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