The Energy Story

  Energy Is Born
  Energy Types
  Energy Changes
  Energy Generation

The Energy Problem

  Conservation of Energy
  Aging of Energy
  Finite Resources
  The Oil "Crisis"
  Energy Pollution
  Discussion Topics

The Energy Solution

  Conserving Electricity
  Appliance Efficiency
  Heating Conservation
  Renewable Energy

Web Links

Teacher Guide

About the Author

Secret Lives Title - The Energy Story

agif - prism
The Ten Types
Light Energy


In everyday usage, we use the word light to mean only those forms of radiation that we can see. For our purposes we will use light to mean all of the frequencies of radiation shown in the diagram below, known as the electromagnetic spectrum or EMS.

The EMS has been broken up into types, consisting of bands of frequencies, as shown below, gamma rays, x-rays, etc. We have found uses for many of these types of radiation, examples of which are given below.

Light is always in motion and cannot be stored, so it is a kinetic type of energy. You might say that light is essentially "pure" energy, since it theoretically has no mass.

graphic of EMS sprectrum

Type of Radiation
Some Applications
X-Rays Taking x-ray pictures of internal parts of the body. Some parts of the body allow x-rays to pass while others, like bones, do not.
Visible Light Microscopes, telescopes, lamps, traffic stop lights, flashlights, etc.
Infrared Night vision glasses, heat lamps, tanning lamps.
Radar Detection of objects such as airplanes, boats, people or the speeds of cars.
Microwave Cooking food.
Radio Waves Radio communications and radio telescopes.

Light is simultaneously a wave and a particle. The higher the frequency, the more energy the light or electromagnetic radiation contains. The greater the frequency, the more energy each particle, called the photon, contains.

Created by Tom Chandler, OME educator, 2001-02