Radio waves

Radio waves are a type of electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum longer than infrared light. Radio waves have frequenciesfrom 300 GHz to as low as 3 kHz, and corresponding wavelengths ranging from 1 millimeter (0.039 in) to 100 kilometers (62 mi). Like all other electromagnetic waves, they travel at the speed of light. Naturally, occurring radio waves are made by lightning, or by astronomical objects. Artificially generated radio waves are used for fixed and mobile radio communication, broadcasting, radar and other navigation systems, communication satellites, computer networks and innumerable other applications. Different frequencies of radio waves have different propagation characteristics in the Earth's atmosphere; long waves may cover a part of the Earth very consistently, shorter waves can reflect off the ionosphere and travel around the world, and much shorter wavelengths bend or reflect very little and travel on a line of sight.

To prevent interference between different users, the artificial generation and use of radio waves is strictly regulated by law, coordinated by an international body called the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). The radio spectrum is divided into a number of radio bands based on frequency, allocated to different uses.

Radio waves were first predicted by mathematical work done in 1867 by Scottish mathematical physicist James Clerk Maxwell. Maxwell noticed wavelike properties of light and similarities in electrical and magnetic observations. He then proposed equations that described light waves and radio waves as waves of electromagnetism that travel in space, radiated by a charged particle as it undergoes acceleration. In 1887, Heinrich Hertz demonstrated the reality of Maxwell's electromagnetic waves by experimentally generating radio waves in his laboratory. Many inventions followed, making the use of radio waves to transfer information through space. The study of electromagnetic phenomena such as reflection, refraction, polarization, diffraction, and absorption is of critical importance in the study of how radio waves move in free space and over the surface of the Earth. Different frequencies experience different combinations of these phenomena in the Earth's atmosphere, making certain radio bands more useful for specific purposes than others.

Radio waves travel at the speed of light in a vacuum. When passing through an object, they are slowed according to that object's permeability and permittivity. The wavelength is the distance from one peak of the wave's electric field to the next, and is inversely proportional to the frequency of the wave. The distance a radio wave travels in one second, in a vacuum, is 299,792,458 meters (983,571,056 ft) which is the wavelength of a 1-hertz radio signal. A 1-megahertz radio signal has a wavelength of 299.8 meters (984 ft).

In order to receive radio signals, for instance from AM/FM radio stations, a radio antenna must be used. However, since the antenna will pick up thousands of radio signals at a time, a radio tuner is necessary to tune in a particular signal. This is typically done via a resonator (in its simplest form, a circuit with a capacitor and an inductor). The resonator is configured to resonate at a particular frequency, allowing the tuner to amplify sine waves at that radio frequency and ignore other sine waves. Usually, either the inductor or the capacitor of the resonator is adjustable, allowing the user to change the frequency at which it resonates. The etymology of "radio" or "radiotelegraphy" reveals that it was called "wireless telegraphy", which was shortened to "wireless" in Britain. The prefix radio- in the sense of wireless transmission was first recorded in the word radio conductor, a description provided by the French physicist Edouard Branly in 1897. It is based on the verb to radiate (in Latin "radius" means "spoke of a wheel, beam of light, ray").

The word "radio" also appears in a 1907 article by Lee De Forest. It was adopted by the United States Navy in 1912, to distinguish radio from several other wireless communication technologies, such as the photo phone. The term became common by the time of the first commercial broadcasts in the United States in the 1920s. (The noun "broadcasting" itself came from an agricultural term, meaning "scattering seeds widely.") The term was adopted by other languages in Europe and Asia. British Commonwealth countries continued to use commonly the term "wireless" until the mid-20th century, though the magazine of the BBC in the UK has been called Radio Times ever since it was first published in the early 1920s.

In recent years, the more general term "wireless" has gained renewed popularity through the rapid growth of short-range computer networking, e.g., Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN), Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth, as well as mobile telephony, e.g., GSM and UMTS. Today, the term "radio" specifies the actual type of transceiver device or chip, whereas "wireless" refers to the lack of physical connections; one talks about radio transceivers, but other talks about wireless devices and wireless sensor networks.



14. Translate the verbs and their derivatives:

To communicate communication; communicative; uncommunicative; communicator.

To transmit transmitter; transmission; transmitted; transmissible; transmitting (coil).

To receive receiver; reception; receptive; receptivity; receiving (coil).

To follow follower; following.

To contribute contribution; contributor; contributory.

To invent inventor; invention; invented.

To implement implementation; implemented.

To retrieve retrieval; retrievable; irretrievable.

To improve improvement; improver; improved; unimproved; improvable;


To appear to disappear; appearance; disappearance.

To establish to disestablish; established; establishment.

To predict predicted; prediction; predictor.

To address addressability; addressable; addressee; addressing; addressless; addressness.

Sequence sequent; sequential; sequencer; consequently.

Function functional; functionality; functionally/


15. Read the texts, study basic types of modulation and speak of them:



  1. B. Listen to part of a radio interview with a historian talking about Einstein. Then complete each sentence with a word or a short phrase. (Track 17, CD2)
  2. From Radio Valves to Cosmic Communications
  4. Lesson 20 Radiotelephone Procedure
  5. Radio antennas
  6. Radio Equipment
  7. Radio receivers
  8. Radio systems
  9. Radio transmitters
  10. The Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System
  11. Transmission and Reception of Radio Waves

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