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I understand RF (Radio Frequency) Waves are electromagnetic waves and a mode of communication for wireless technologies, such as cordless phones, radar, ham radio, GPS, and television broadcasts. Most modes of RF waves are invisible. Can RF Waves be visible? If so, how do I make RF Waves visible? Is an X-ray an example. Please give me a few examples?

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To make RF waves visible you should run toward the source very quickly. Eventually they will become red, then yellow, green, blue. – valdo Oct 19 '11 at 18:11
Dude I had this idea couple years ago, also make sounds waves visible that would be much cooler :) – 0x90 Feb 2 '12 at 17:40
@0x90, Sound waves can be done with appropriate chemical stimulation of the nervous system. RF is a much harder problem. – The Photon Dec 24 '13 at 5:22

One way to make RF waves visible is with something like a radio telescope. An ordinary (light) telescope collects light and focuses it onto a receptor (CCD, photographic plate, the eye), thus making it possible to see the visible radiation emitted by a distant galaxy.

A radio telescope does exactly the same with RF frequencies. The resultant display shows us the intensity ("brightness") and frequency ("colour") of the RF radiation coming from different parts of the object under study.

Other telescopes reveal yet other parts of the spectrum (IF, UV, X-ray, etc). When comparing the same object at these different frequencies, we can see differences that give scientists clues about the physical processes that operate in the object. However, each part of the spectrum requires its own specially designed instrument.

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Also worth noting that what you "see" is a false colour image, rather than what RF "actually" looks like, – Kitchi Dec 24 '13 at 14:10

Is an X-ray an example?

An X-ray is not an example of an RF wave. Electromagnetic waves are classified based on their frequencies (or, equivalently, their wavelengths). RF waves are low energy, and have wavelengths from 1 mm to 100 km. X-rays are extremely high energy, and have wavelengths from 0.01 to 10 nanometers. Visible light (which is just another range of wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum) has wavelengths from about 380 to 740 nanometers.

Can RF Waves be visible?

Assuming that you mean "visible" in the sense that the photoreceptors in human eyes would respond to them, then no, RF waves are not visible. Photoreceptors only respond to electromagnetic radiation in the visible spectrum.

If so, how do I make RF Waves visible?

There is, however, a slight loophole. It depends upon whether you define the wave as being RF in the rest frame of the object emitting the wave or the observer (that is, your eye). If you define it in terms of the observer, the answer is again unambiguously no. However, if you define it in terms of the emitting object, the frequency of the wave could be blueshifted into the visible spectrum provided that the emitter and observer are moving towards each other at high velocity (the relativistic Doppler effect).

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They are all examples of electro-magnetic waves, radio-frequency (RF) are those that are in the range of frequencies we call radio. The limits of frequencies that you would call "radio" depends on the field you work in.
An X-ray is like a radio wave but very very much higher frequency.

All radio frequency waves are much lower frequency and so much lower energy than visible light and so you can't make them visible directly. You can make some invisible frequencies directly visible by using them to make something else emit energy in a frequency we can see.

That's easier if the frequency is higher (more energy) than visible because the process will lose energy. So for example there are materials that will take in a high energy X-ray wave and give out a much lower energy visible one. It's much harder to make a material that will take in lower frequency (lower energy) waves and give out higher frequency (higher energy) visible ones. You can do it for frequencies that are only a little too low but not something as low energy as RF.

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In some sense, it is possible to visualize RF waves using, e.g., thermochromic liquid crystals, which change color with temperature: the liquid crystals are applied on an RF absorbing film and change color when RF waves heat the film.

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As I have the same question, and I have a completely different solution, which I would like to share with you. In order to see an invisible wave, the solution is to use another carrier visible wave to interfere or act as a carrier for the invisible wave. The same as the carrier waves used to carry sound waves. The carrier wave, we are speaking about here has to be a monochromatic light to act as a carrier. In this case the invisible wave will appear in the form of interference in the monochromatic ray which will be directed through the invisible wave.

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There is a carrier used to carry sound waves? – Brandon Enright Dec 24 '13 at 6:55

I like Will Briard answer, and since I can't vote or comment until I reach a limit and I don't like to post mediocre or wrong answers like others, I'll expand Will answer here in lamer terms.

Interference is like Moiré. Moiré and interference is what makes you see the tire of a car static, while in motion, because the speed of the tire matches the speed of the frames-per-second of the video (in usa 29.97 fps, in film 25fps)

so you are able to see a fast-moving object in the visible parameters of our eyes.

Have you been watching TV near a fluorescent light and you are constantly seeing the room's light flashing? Well, that's not the speed of the bulb or TV set frequencies, but the "moiré" or interference between both.

Same happen when you overlap two line patterns, like psychedelic 70's effects in music videos. The two patters make a third patern, which moves in a third direction.

Same happens when you say "Ohmmmmmm" (or whatever the english onomatopoeia is for the indian meditation vocalization). You are actually tunning to the ambience resonation (sun I think), and you can actually "hear" when they match. You could say you are listening to the "sound" there.

Last, stroboscopic devices like the ones to "see" the piston of a car while fast moving, or the ones used to "see" the lines around a disc-jockey's vinyl records turntable, by introducing a second frequency (the flashing light).

In these cases you are seeing the "object", not the frequency (which light is) but at least you can know, by measuring the frequency you are mixing in, what the frequency of the rf is, or its subtle variations.

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"Ohmmm" is not tuning into an ambient resonance, especially not of the Sun. If it is resonant in any way at all, it's in your own throat / skull and not your surroundings. – Brandon Enright Dec 24 '13 at 6:52
It's called "OM" and if the resonance was in your head, why do all people tune at the same frequency? I think you were doing it wrong. Not my fault if I CAN tune to 136.1 naturally and you can't. – sergio Dec 27 '13 at 8:52

protected by Qmechanic Dec 24 '13 at 12:39

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