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Question
Dear Mr. Kovalcin,

I am wondering if the source of all electromagnetic waves and electricity moving thru a current  is some  electron in an some  atom somewhere   going up one level and falling back down and thereby resulting in some kind ofmovement- wave propagation or current  - while   emitting energy in form of heat and light.

Is this electron going up and down the cause of the whole thing?

Thank you for your patience.

Joan

Answer
ALL light is caused by the acceleration of charged particles and any charged particle that is accelerating can cause light. Most light we encounter every day is the result of electrons accelerating from a higher energy level in matter to a lower energy level. However, some light, such as gamma rays result from protons changing energy levels rather than electrons.  Electrons, such as those in a metal, are free to transition to virtually any energy and can, therefore, emit a continuous spectrum of light rather than the discrete emissions of electrons confined to specific atomic energy levels.

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James J. Kovalcin

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I am teaching or have taught AP physics B and C [calculus based mechanics & electricity and magnetism] as well as Lab Physics for college bound students. I have a BS in Physics from the University of Pittsburgh and a Master of Arts in Teaching from same. I have been teaching physics for 34 years. I am constantly updating my skills and have a particular interest in modern physics topics.

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