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Physics 3-4

Problem Set 3
Electromagnetism
Complete the readings and answer the following questions on a separate paper. Please feel free to do
any additional research before answering
1. What are the different types of electromagnetic waves and what distinguishes one set
from another?
The different types of waves are Radio Waves, Microwaves, Infrared, Visible Light, Ultraviolet, X-Rays,
and Gamma Rays. The biggest thing that differs between the types of waves is that they are have
different frequencies and, as a result, they fall in different places on the electromagnetic spectrum. Lower
spectrum waves, such as Radio Waves, are the least harmful. But as you move up the spectrum to
Gamma Rays, the waves are higher frequency and more harmful.
2.

How are photons the force carrying particle of the electromagnetic force?

Photons have no mass, but they are able to transfer electromagnetic force between particles, thus
carrying the electromagnetic force.
3. What are the ways in which electromagnetic interactions occur?
There are a few ways. One, the electromagnetic radiation could reflect off a surface. Two, the radiation
could go entirely through the surface, which would mean the surface was transparent, but no known
surfaces are completely transparent to electromagnetic radiation. Third, the radiation could be partially or
completely absorbed by the surface. This means that energy is transferred into the surface affected by
the waves.
4. Who is more significant to the development of science: Faraday or Maxwell? Why?
I think Faraday is more important. Not only did he come up with over a dozen laws and experimental
tools, he also was Maxwell’s inspiration. It could be said that Maxwell would not have written his
equations of electromagnetism if not for Faraday’s influence.
5. How did the understanding of electromagnetism help humans understand interstellar
phenomena? Give an example.
Using Maxwell’s model of electromagnetism, we were able to develop magnetohydrodynamics, or MHD.
MHD allows us to mimic the behavior of plasmas and create simulations of stars and planets.
6. How does the magnetosphere protect life on earth?
The magnetosphere pushes away protons and electrons from solar wind. The solar wind consists of
highly charged particles that would hurt humans due to high radiation levels.
7. What is the shape of the electromagnetic force and how do we know?

The shape is a wave. We know because of light polarization, which allows you to see the waves that
move perpendicular to each other and are able to witness their “chirality.”
8. What is stronger: electromagnetism or gravity? How can you simply prove this.
It depends. Gravity is weak at the molecular level yet stronger at a planetary level, as opposed to
electromagnetism which is very strong molecularly but weaker than gravity at the planetary level.
9. How is the electromagnetic force significant to digital photography?
Photons are the force carrying particle of the electromagnetic force, and when you take a picture with a
digital camera, silicon sensors pick up these photons. The sensors are little grids of “photosites,” and
these photosites (which absorb the photons) are the pixels that make up a photo.