Interesting Radio Waves Facts You Should Read

Radio waves are all around us and play an important role in our everyday lives. Radio waves are found in communication devices, satellite equipment, and global positioning systems, all of which we use on a daily basis. If not for radio waves, you would not be able to read this.

You would not be able to punch an address into a GPS system to begin navigation. You would not be able to check the local weather radar to see how close a storm was approaching. This is just a quick look at how radio waves give us an insight and connection into the world that we otherwise would not have.

Radio waves help keep us connected with one another. Without radio waves, phone calls would not be possible; and long talks on the telephone are one of life’s greatest gifts!

Before we take a deeper dive into how radio waves play an important role in our everyday lives, we need to take a look into what radio waves are, how they work, and what makes them so successful.

What Are Radio Waves?

We are going to take a look into some really interesting facts about radio waves, but before we take an extensive dive into those facts, we need to know exactly what radio waves are.

Radio waves are waves of energy that are found on the electromagnetic spectrum. Radio waves were proven in 1887 by Heinrich Hertz, which is where the hertz measurement got its name. Radio waves are measured in hertz, most often known and classified as megahertz and gigahertz. 

For radio waves to successfully work with one another, two devices must be tuned to the same wavelength. These wavelengths are also known as frequencies. A transmitting device uses a specific frequency to send out the radio waves.

In turn, the receiving device will be tuned to the same frequency to receive the radio waves. This is how you can listen to the radio, watch TV, and communicate on a cell phone. 

Radio waves are also used in satellite imagery. These satellites use radio waves to communicate with various devices to transmit data. This can include but is not limited to GPS systems, weather radars, and astronomical telescopes and imagery. 

Let’s take a deeper dive into some of the most interesting facts about radio waves and how they are used.

Fact #1: Radios, Televisions, and Telephones use AM and FM Radio Waves

You have probably noticed there are two frequencies to choose from on the radio, but what you may not know is that radio stations are assigned to AM or FM stations based on their measured frequency. If you listen to the radio, you are listening to a radio station using AM frequency or FM frequency.

AM radio waves range from 540 kHz to 1600 kHz. AM stands for amplitude modulation. This means that the amplitude of the radio wave is modulated while the frequency remains the same. This gives AM radio a more static, less clear sound wave when received, making AM radio the less desired frequency for listening to music or news.

FM radio waves range from 88 MHz to 108 MHz. FM stands for frequency modulation. This means that the frequency of the radio wave is modulated while the amplitude stays the same. The result of FM radio waves is a clearer, less noisy sound wave when received. 

Television antennas combine these two frequencies to bring you both video and audio signals through your television. A television using a television antenna will receive the video signal as an AM frequency while receiving the audio signal as an FM frequency. 

Cordless telephones also use radio waves to communicate with each other. The base of the telephone receives the electrical signal when an incoming call is made. This is where the FM radio waves come in. The cordless phone uses FM radio waves to transmit the electrical signal to the telephone handset.

A black smart phone next to a black old time rotary phone against a white background

Without radio waves, we would be confined to phones with cords and could only go as far as the cord would allow. Because of radio waves, we have cordless phones that communicate through radio waves, giving us free rein to walk around the house or even outside without losing connection.

Interested in protecting yourself from 5G Radiation? Read more in this article on 5G protection.

Fact #2: Radio Waves Connect Us with One Another

Phone calls, text messages, social media applications, and emails are just a few of the ways we use radio waves each day. If you have had a conversation with someone on the phone, through email, or social media application, you can thank radio waves for that. Radio waves are used in cordless phones, cell phones, tablets, and laptops, and these electronic devices keep us connected with one another. 

Cell Phones

Cell phones use radio waves to transmit incoming and outgoing signals to communicate. This is also known as frequency. Cell phones require communication towers to carry the frequencies and distribute them.

The cell phone will use the nearest cell phone tower to collect incoming or outgoing information. Once collected, the cell phone tower will distribute the information to the targeted recipient. 

If this were handwritten communication, such as a letter, it would take hours or even days for the recipient to receive. Because of radio waves, we can have instant conversations with friends and family at our fingertips that are endless.

Wireless Internet

Another way that radio waves connect us with one another is through wireless internet. This is how we can send or read an email, update a Facebook status, or even place a mobile coffee order for pickup. 

Your cell phone or tablet uses Wi-Fi or data to communicate with online applications. These online applications can include email, social media, mobile food ordering, games, and messaging services. 

Wireless internet is transmitted using radio waves, also known as frequencies. These radio waves communicate with the wireless router, the electronic device requesting the information (website, email, application, etc.), and the internet service provider.

Without radio waves, we would not be able to post a picture to social media or check an email while on the go.

Fact #3: Radio Waves are used in Air Traffic Control

Without radio waves, air traffic controllers would not be able to communicate with airplane pilots to successfully help them navigate the crowded skies. Radio waves give air traffic controllers the ability to communicate with pilots during takeoff, landing, and as they are approaching nearby airspaces. 

Air traffic controllers and pilots use HF or VHF radio waves to communicate with each other. HF is high frequency, and VHF is very high frequency. 

When airplanes fly over large bodies of water, they will utilize HF radio waves, as VHF requires line-of-sight communication between the transmitter and the receiver. Over large bodies of water, there are no transmitters and receivers to send the information; therefore, VHF radio waves are a useless form of communication when flying over large bodies of water. 

Think about the impact the skies and ground would have if we did not have air traffic controllers to safely navigate airplanes on a daily basis. Pilots are in constant communication with air traffic controllers to determine if they are clear for takeoff, landing, or to pass through the airspace. Without radio waves, air traffic controllers would not be able to give pilots the appropriate clearance for safe navigation.

Radio waves help us ascend, descend, and travel through the skies safely through the communication from air traffic controllers to the pilots.

Fact #4: Radio Waves Help Us Know When Weather Systems Are Approaching

person holding a tablet with the words "weather report" and clouds on it

When you watch your local news, you may hear them mention the local radar when discussing the current or upcoming weather. Radar is an acronym that stands for Radio Detection And Ranging. The radar will pick up detections on a map, such as movements and positions of an object or objects. 

In relation to weather, radar is important because it lets a person known how close a storm is to approaching a certain location. This is important for both short-range and long-range forecasts. 

For short-range forecasts, you will need to know how soon an impending storm will be affecting your location. This can be through heavy snowfall, severe thunderstorms, or localized flash flooding. By knowing how soon the storm will affect you, you can protect yourself accordingly.

For example, if you need to drive, you can check the current radar to see how close the heavy rain is to arriving. This way, you can determine if you need to wait and leave in order to drive safely to your destination.

Long-term forecasts are equally as important as short-term forecasts. This is because large weather systems, such as blizzards, squall lines, or hurricanes, can be forecasted as many as a few days out and give citizens plenty of opportunities to make preparations. This can be in terms of evacuations, buying supplies, or boarding up windows and doors.

Radio waves help keep us safe from potentially deadly storm systems by obtaining radar information and forecasting them appropriately based on the data received. 

Fact #5: Radio Waves Help Us Travel

One of the greatest inventions to hit the market in recent years is the global positioning system, also known as GPS. GPS allows us to type an address into a system to receive turn-by-turn directions as you drive to the location, and radio waves make this happen.

A GPS uses radio waves to communicate with satellite information to tell us where we are and how to get where we are going. This makes traveling easier. No more typing an address into an internet browser and printing off directions and no more grabbing the Rand McNally atlas to figure out the best way to arrive at your destination.

Simply get in the car, punch in the address and go. It has truly never been easier.

Fact #6: Radio Waves Emit Radiation

One of the not-so-fun facts about radio waves is that they emit radiation. Radio waves are also known as radiofrequency, and radiofrequency is a form of electromagnetic field (EMF) radiation.

EMF radiation is found all around us and can be natural or artificial, ionizing, or non-ionizing.

Ionizing radiation is radiation with extremely high energy. This energy is so high that it can detach the electrons of the subatomic particles and ionize them. Ionizing radiation is more dangerous than non-ionizing radiation. This is because of the energy levels found within the ionizing radiation.

Ionizing radiation can change a person’s DNA and damage a person’s skin and vital organs when coming in contact with the radiation. This is why a radiology technician places a lead apron on your body before performing an x-ray. An x-ray is ionizing radiation and can easily damage your vital organs if you are not protected.

Non-ionizing radiation does not carry the same amount of energy, but this does not mean that non-ionizing radiation is free from danger.

Radio waves emit non-ionizing radiation as they are used. This means the facts above that include air traffic control, radar, radio and television systems, and wireless internet communication all emit EMF radiation as they are used.

Fact #7: You Can Protect Yourself from Radiofrequency Radiation

The good news is that you can protect yourself from the radiofrequency radiation you receive on a daily basis. These sources may be from a cell phone, wireless internet router, tablet, or laptop computer.

Smart phone face down on a wood surface with wireless headphones next to the phone

To protect yourself from these electronic devices, you can purchase an EMF radiation shielding protection cover or case for your phone or tablet. This will block over 98% of EMF radiation emitted from these electronic devices.

If using a laptop computer, do not place the laptop directly on your lap during use. By placing a laptop directly on your lap during use, you are subjecting yourself to direct EMF radiation. This means you are absorbing the maximum amount of EMF radiation being emitted from the laptop.

Laptops placed directly on a person’s lap with no protective covering can cause reproductive issues, such as possible infertility and temporary sterility.

To protect yourself from EMF radiation while using a laptop, purchase an EMF radiation protective shield to place on your lap between the laptop and your lap. This will act as a barrier to block and absorb over 98% of EMF radiation that would otherwise be directly absorbed into your body.

Other ways to protect yourself from radiofrequency radiation includes:

  • Create a radiation-free room in your house. This can mean no electronic devices are allowed in the room, and additional protective measures are taken to shield the room. This may include EMF radiation shielding paint, EMF radiation shielding curtains, and EMF radiation shielding window treatments.
  • Keep your electronic devices at a distance, especially at night. Your electronic devices will emit EMF radiation even when they are not in use. By placing them across the room or in an entirely different room as you sleep will significantly reduce the amount of EMF radiation you receive each night from the devices.
  • Turn electronic devices to airplane mode if you must sleep with them nearby. By placing your cell phone on airplane mode before falling asleep, you can still utilize the cell phone’s alarm clock feature without receiving the maximum amount of EMF radiation that the device would otherwise be emitting.
  • Keep a distance between the electronic device and your body. For example, if using a cell phone, try not to place the cell phone directly on your ear/face when using it. Instead, use the cell phone’s speaker function or a pair of hollow tubular headphones. Headphones that are hollow and tubular will reduce the EMF radiation that would otherwise be transmitted from the device directly into your ear through the electrical wires of the headphones.

Devices That Use Radio Waves

It is important to know the types of electronic devices that use radio waves to communicate and operate. By knowing these electronic devices, you can recognize when and how you should protect yourself from the EMF radiation emitted from them.

Here is a list of electronic devices that use radio waves:

  • Cell phones
  • Tablets
  • Laptop computers
  • Walkie talkies
  • Global positioning systems (GPS)
  • Wireless internet (Wi-Fi)
  • Radios
  • Televisions
  • Satellites (radar systems, navigation systems)
  • Cell phone towers/lines

Conclusion

animated picture with a blue background with a cloud in the center and multiple electronic devices pointed to the cloud

Radio waves are all around us. Without radio waves, we would not be able to enjoy some of life’s most useful and convenient inventions. From communication devices, such as cell phones, cordless phones, and wireless internet, to satellite imagery used in weather radar and global positioning systems, radio waves make all of these inventions possible.

Radio waves may be one of the greatest and quite possibly most easily overlooked inventions that we get to experience in our lifetime. Radio waves are so common that we forget just how big of a role they play in so many areas.

However, if a device uses radio waves, it also emits EMF radiation. This is why it is important to know that a device uses radio waves to communicate and function because this means it is also is emitting EMF radiation while in use, too.

EMF radiation is emitted from radio waves because radio waves are located on the electromagnetic spectrum. Waves on the electromagnetic spectrum contain energy and emit radiation. Therefore, radio waves emit EMF radiation.

EMF radiation through radio waves is non-ionizing radiation because the energy within the radiation is not strong enough to detach the electrons within the subatomic particles and ionize them. This means that EMF radiation through radiofrequency is less dangerous in small doses than ionizing radiation; however, you should still protect yourself from doses of EMF radiation through radio waves.

To protect yourself from electronic devices that use radio waves to communicate and function, you can place an EMF radiation protective covering or case over the applicable device.

If using a cell phone or tablet, enclose the electronic device in a cover or case before use. This will reduce over 98% of the EMF radiation emitted from the electronic device. This will keep you safe from the EMF radiation emitted.

You can also use hollow tubular headphones that do not use electrical wires to transmit the sound from the device to the earbuds of the headphones. This will reduce EMF radiation as well.

If using a laptop computer, you will want to use an EMF radiation protective shield to place between your lap and the laptop computer. This will reduce the amount of EMF radiation that is directly absorbed through your lap while using the laptop.

You can also protect yourself from EMF radiation by limiting the amount of time you spend on electronic devices that use radio waves. You can place your phone across the room or in another room while you are not using it. This will reduce the amount of EMF radiation you receive.

Another way to protect yourself from EMF radiation is by placing your cell phone on airplane mode while you sleep each night. This will reduce the amount of EMF radiation that is being emitted but will also let you use functions within your phone, such as an alarm clock.

To make sure you receive a substantial amount of EMF radiation-free time throughout the day is to create a device-free room within your house. A device-free room will be a room in your home with no electronic device allowed within it, but you should also reinforce the walls by using EMF radiation shielding paint.

EMF radiation shielding paint will keep radiation in other rooms from penetrating the walls of your device-free room. This will keep your device-free room as radiation-free as possible. Radio waves are all around us, so it is important to know where to recognize them so that we can know how to protect ourselves from them.

Featured Photo by NASA on Unsplash