how did guys like Marconi discover or knew radio waves exists without ever seeing them?


how did guys like Marconi discover or knew radio waves exists without ever seeing them?

In: Physics

Electromagnetic induction had been known about since Faraday discovered it and worked out the math in the 1830s. Induction basically allowed magnetic fields to move electrically conductive things and moving magnets to generate electricity so *something* must have been there.

Maxwell then worked out the math that showed that there was an electromagnetic field that permeates space during the 1860s. Maxwell’s math also said there were ways for this field to have information pass through it in the form of electromagnetic waves.

Through this, Heinrich Hertz was able to prove the existence of these electromagnetic waves. He was also kind enough to provide a means to both produce them and detect them.

From there, it was basically piecing all of this together into a coherent and practical system. Which is where Marconi and his brethren step in.

He read the works of Heinrich Hertz that described the phenomenon we now know as electromagnetic waves.

He could also measure their effect with metal filings.

He just looked at it from a different angle than anyone else had before. The existence of radio waves was already known, but no-one else was really looking at the science of them from a communications/ engineering perspective. I think it was Hertz who actually got credit for discovering the pheomenon of radio waves, but didn’t quite fully understand it yet. When Hertz died, a lot of his journals became public and Marconi had a vision, so he just devoured all that new information and ran with it.

In short, he was just one of those rare visionaries who tackled something far outside the box. They’re always crazy, until they’re right.

People in the 1800s were already familiar with the properties of light, electricity, and magnets from work done in the 16 and 1700s. As the use of electronics spread, people also observed that electronic equipment could interfere with other electronics from some distance away, even in the apparent absence of visible light or significant magnetic fields.

The concept of light as an electromagnetic wave was developed by a physicist named James Maxwell in the 1860s, suggesting that both visible and invisible light could carry an electromagnetic field any distance.

His predictions of invisible electromagnetic “radio” waves were proven in labs a decade or so later, and then work began on using this process to transmit information.