21 April, 2012

A-Z Blogging Challenge: Spectroscopy

A more dramatic example of visible flame spectroscopy, by Arthur Jan
Fijalkowski, CC-BY-SA-3.0. SOURCE.
Spectroscopy (also called spectrography) is the study of spectra.

In the physics sense, spectra (the plural of spectrum) are energy emitted in the form of different wavelengths, such as electromagnetic radiation, which includes gamma rays, x-rays, ultraviolet, visible light, infrared, microwaves, and radio waves. Spectroscopy is used to determine the composition and the movement of matter, based on how it reacts to radiation.

Part of spectroscopy focuses on visible light and its colors, though there is also--and to name just a few of the many different kinds of spectroscopy--atomic absorption spectroscopy (the study of how energy is absorbed using radiation), electron paramagnetic spectroscopy (which uses microwaves), electron spectroscopy (measures changes in electron energy levels), Fourier transform spectroscopy (matter is bombarded with radiation and the results analyzed with mathematics), gamma-ray spectroscopy, infrared spectroscopy, mass spectrometry (generates ions that interact with the matter in question), Mossbauer spectroscopy (used in mineralogy to detect iron), Raman spectroscopy (uses the scattering of light to find the vibration and rotation of molecules), and x-ray spectroscopy.

For more detail about how spectroscopy actually works, let's take the example of light. Light spectroscopy examines continuous and discrete spectra: A continuous spectrum includes a range of colors with few interruptions along the observed wavelengths, while a discrete spectrum has dark-light contrast between wavelengths.

Specific elements can be determined using spectroscopy because when an atom absorbs energy its electrons move into a higher orbit, and when the electrons fall back to a lower orbit, energy is released in the form of a certain wavelength of radiation. With discrete spectra, brighter colors are emission spectra and darker spikes are absorption spectra, and these fluctuations are characteristic to certain atoms and molecules. This use of spectroscopy is particularly important in astronomy, and the matter, temperature, density, and motion of objects in space can be discerned from those observed changes.

An example of magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS).
© Nevit Dilmen, CC-BY-SA-3.0. SOURCE.
Notable Spectroscopist:

Joseph P. Hornak

Joseph Hornak is a Professor of Chemistry, Materials Science and Engineering, and Imaging Science at the, and the Director of the Magnetic Resonance Laboratory at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), as well as an Adjunct Associate Professor of Radiology at the University of Rochester. He graduated with a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Notre Dame University and is a Fellow of the American Chemical Society, International Society of Magnetic Resonance, and the Environmental and Engineering Geophysical Society.

His research at RIT involves magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy.




Think you'd ever want to be a spectroscopist? (I actually found job listings, which I've never come across for any other scientific field I researched.)

-----The Golden Eagle


Anonymous said...

Interesting stuff. I remember coming across this back in high school, in chemistry class I believe.

Have a great weekend.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the science lesson! I'm having fun reading my kids science books. They studied light a couple months ago.

Anonymous said...

Seriously: you need to put this all together and submit it for SOMETHING! YOu should go for one of those jobs.

Jean said...

I thought this was a beautifully done entry. Very cool. jean

Maryann Miller said...

I had to go way back in my memory bank to remember my physics class and a brief introduction to this. Very fascinating. And I enjoyed the robotics post, too.

Thanks for coming by my blog for the A to Z challenge.

S. L. Hennessy said...

I saw this artist once that did paintings and such based on scientific studies of spectra. It was actually very beautiful.

Charles Gramlich said...

If often amazes me how much information scientists can glean from something like spectrascopy.

Cindy Dwyer said...

Thanks for sharing such great information in such an interesting way!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Interesting - I remember learning a little about spectroscopy in a college astronomy class. It's an interesting field of study.

Inger said...

I really enjoy your posts and admire you for taking on all these interesting, but difficult (at least for me, difficult) subjects so that we can learn more about the universe and all that is involved in making things work.

The Golden Eagle said...

Medeia: I agree--it is.

You too!

Stephen: You're welcome!

Stuart: Me? I don't even have a single degree. :P

Though I have been thinking about what you said about compiling these posts into some kind of book . . . I intrigued as to what could come out of it.

Jean: Thank you so much!

Maryann: I'm glad you enjoyed the posts. :)

You're welcome!

S. L.: A lot of beautiful things can come out of science. :)

Charles: Same here. Some methods of gathering data make sense when you think about it--but the people who figure them out are brilliant.

Cindy: You're welcome!

Tyrean: I agree. :)

Inger: I'm so glad you've liked my posts!

Rek said...

I was always fascinated by this area of science, the light spectrum and diffusion theories. It makes me appreciate on a base level, the sunrises and sunsets, a bit more.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I think this field will grow and grow as we study the good and bad of the various spectra.

Arthur Brill said...

Great post!

Thanks for stopping by Main Street Arts and commenting on the Obama photo!


S is for Shepherdstown, WV

Pat Hatt said...

I found it interesting when they went over it in university a bit, but not enough to do a job with it. You should though, you seem to know a ton.

Jay Noel said...

I've learned a lot about spectography since I started working in the optical industry.

For example, did you know that 80% of your eyes' UV exposure occurs before you're 18 years old?!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

It's been a great many years since I studied spectroscopy.

Christine Rains said...

I think this is one of the most interesting ones yet. It gives me some cool sci-fi story ideas.

Kathy said...

Very interesting! Your article was fascinating and I feel I am walking away from reading it a little more enlightened and intelligent than when I arrived. Thank you!! Visiting back from the A-Z challenge. Thank you for visiting my site. I am now following you. :D


klahanie said...

Hey Golden Eagle,
This was a brilliant article and you put the subject into a whole new light.
Have a good weekend and have continued happy writing with the alphabet challenge.
In kindness, Gary

Amy Saia said...

I always thought the study of light and prism was the coolest thing. Great post.

Thank you for the nice words on Karen's blog!

Lynda R Young said...

Now this is a fascinating field!

Angela Brown said...

I've always been fascinated when I've seen wielders strike their tools of trade, lighting that first flame of blazing orange then watching as they dial it the point of that colbalt blue. Never fully understood either.

I'm not sure if I'd be good for the job dealing with spectrascopy since my fascination would be more focused on the color changes and not the benefits and ways in which the various imaging would help :-(

kmckendry said...

Great info! Thanks for sharing.

Jemi Fraser said...

Actually I think that would be very interesting! :)

Talli Roland said...

Another super-interesting post. If only my science teachers had been as interesting as you are.

Humpty Dumpty said...

This was my favourite part of chemistry class back in high school & 1st year University - probably because I liked all the pretty colours! lol

Sangu Mandanna said...

That's very interesting. I'm not sure it's something I'd want to do - or be smart enough to, ha! - but it's cool to learn new things :-)

The Golden Eagle said...

Rek: Same here. :)

Susan: It's interesting what information can be gathered from spectroscopy . . .

Arthur: Thank you!

I really enjoyed visiting your blog. :)

Pat: I really don't think I'm qualified for it right now. :P LOL.

Jay: Nope, I didn't! I wonder why that is. Does something happen to shield your eyes as you get older?

Alex: Did this refresh anything? :)

Christine: Glad you found the subject interesting!

Kathy: You're very welcome! :)

Thank you for following The Eagle's Aerial Perspective!

Klahanie: Thank you.

Amy: Thanks!

You deserve them. And it sounds like your writing career is taking some major leaps and bounds! :)

Angela: Spectroscopy does generate some interesting visuals.

Kmckendry: You're welcome.

Jemi: Same here. ;)

Talli: Aw, thanks. Though I really don't think I have much next to people who teach science regularly . . .

Humpty Dumpty: I like them, too. :)

Sangu: It is! And the reason I decided to write these science posts for the A-Z Challenge.

Nas Dean said...

A very fascinating post! Took me back to my science class- too far back I'm afraid!

The Golden Eagle said...

Nas: Thank you!

Hope it rekindled some interest, at any rate. :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Golden .. I love the photo .. and I often read about light proving a point, or being used to highlight something out of the ordinary .. fascinating ..

Cheers Hilary