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Thread: Could radio waves cause global warming?

  1. #1 Could radio waves cause global warming? 
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    Hey Guys,

    I was having a discussion with my father, who is an electrician and studied radio waves and frequencies as a kid. I made the comment that radio waves are just light, and light carries heat energy - so is it possible, probable or provable that radio waves give off heat energy, and thus would have greatly contributed to "global warming"?

    He agreed that it was a good question, but knew neither the answer nor where to find one, so I found this place!

    Has anyone studied this?

    Cheers,

    Tim.


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  3. #2 Re: Could radio waves cause global warming? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by dickohead
    Hey Guys,

    I was having a discussion with my father, who is an electrician and studied radio waves and frequencies as a kid. I made the comment that radio waves are just light, and light carries heat energy - so is it possible, probable or provable that radio waves give off heat energy, and thus would have greatly contributed to "global warming"?

    He agreed that it was a good question, but knew neither the answer nor where to find one, so I found this place!

    Has anyone studied this?

    Cheers,

    Tim.
    Unfortunately for that, the amount of radio waves carried on the planet are too small to cause any real heat rise (even given the energy being bounced around). If this were to happen, I know a few great-yet-forgot scientists (like that one who could disperse massive amounts of energy into the air/ground, have it not effect the life surrounding the area, yet could light up light bulbs 20 or so miles away, and whom I forget the name of...) that would have ended up causing their deaths by heat if the amount of energy were to cause a heat raise.

    Although the ones I refer to didn't use radio waves, but you get the idea.


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  4. #3  
    Forum Senior anand_kapadia's Avatar
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    I don't think that it affects global warming. Electromagnetic waves of a particular frequencies forms light and heat.
    I think it would do so a drop in a river.
    Well I am not so confirmed about it.
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  5. #4  
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    Radio waves [EM] do not 'give off heat' that implies that as they fly through the air they warm it up. EM radiation can, upon striking a material, through an atomic interaction cause the temperature of the material to rise. Even in your microwave this is true, After the food has been warmed and removed there is little trace of any temperature difference inside the oven [any that is, is a resulted of convected heat not radiated heat]. All but a tiny fraction of radiated 'radio waves' is indeed turned directlty to heat, [some escapes the atmosphere].

    It's a matter of balance here, I have heard that a 2 litre motor car produces about 8KW of heat, your local radio staion may output 20KW of RF power. A TV transmitter 1000KW for a large mainstation. So in terms of it's contribution I suggest it is way down the bottom of the 'offenders' list.
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  6. #5 Re: Could radio waves cause global warming? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeremyhfht
    Unfortunately for that, the amount of radio waves carried on the planet are too small to cause any real heat rise (even given the energy being bounced around). If this were to happen, I know a few great-yet-forgot scientists (like that one who could disperse massive amounts of energy into the air/ground, have it not effect the life surrounding the area, yet could light up light bulbs 20 or so miles away, and whom I forget the name of...) that would have ended up causing their deaths by heat if the amount of energy were to cause a heat raise.
    was it Nikola Tesla?
    Come see some of my art work at http://nevyn-pendragon.deviantart.com/
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  7. #6 Re: Could radio waves cause global warming? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nevyn
    was it Nikola Tesla?
    THANK YOU! I was TRYING to remember that name. *writes it down* stupid google not helping >.>
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  8. #7  
    Forum Ph.D. Nevyn's Avatar
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    your welcome, an extraordinary scientist, very clever, if only i could be like him
    Come see some of my art work at http://nevyn-pendragon.deviantart.com/
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  9. #8  
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    a 2 litre motor car produces about 8KW of heat, your local radio staion may output 20KW of RF power. A TV transmitter 1000KW for a large mainstation. So in terms of it's contribution I suggest it is way down the bottom of the 'offenders' list.
    One car produces 8KW of heat energy, per year? per hour? per second? What time scale are we talking about here? If it's say, every day - and a radio station and a tv transmission tower give off 1020KW of heat energy, for the past 100 years that's a lot of energy from all of the various forms of radio/light waves that we use every day.

    How many mobile phones are there in the world?
    How many TV sets?
    How many radios?
    How many antennas?
    How many satellite dishes?
    and so on

    If you added up the total heat output of all of the devices used in the past 100 years, would that not be enough heat to have made a difference?

    *Ponders turning off wireless network...*
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  10. #9  
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    8KW is 8KW it needs no further clarification.

    And to your question, No, probably not, as the topic is about radio waves.
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  11. #10  
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    So 8KW is 8 kilowatt hours, okay - wasn't sure on that.

    And yes the topis is about radio waves, but specifically radio waves in relation to heat output and the proposed effect on global warming.

    All of those devices I mentioned, use some form of light wave for communication, and have done for the last century or so.
    Prior to radio waves, did we have the problems that we seem to have now?

    I know that mankind has exploded in the last 100 years and will continue to do so, but it makes you wonder - Why do we have the problems we currently have, like cancers, global warming, weird weather etc etc, is it because we are now more aware, or are we at fault?

    Thanks for answering my questions, you've sort of put my mind at ease.

    )

    Cheers.
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  12. #11  
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    NO 8kWH is distinct from 8kW

    8KW is the instantaneous power, whether for a second or a milennia, that is, all while the car's engine is propelling the vehicle it is converting some of the chemical energy of it's fuel to 8KW of heat.

    8KWH would be if the car ran for 1 hour, or if a 1KW heater were used for 8 hours.

    Energy is measured in Joules, power is measured in watts.

    1 watt expressed for 1 second is 1 joule.

    If you use the car for 5 minutes then the [heat] energy produced is 8000*300 = 2.4GJ

    You have [in my opinion] mis-interpreted the original question, it was as to whether radio waves emit heat. No mention was made of the device that generated the waves, or any device capable of receiving them.
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