Lovell Telescope, a fully steerable radio telescope at Jodrell Bank, Macclesfield, Cheshire, Eng.
Learn more about radio telescope with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Study of celestial bodies by measuring the energy they emit or reflect at radio wavelengths. It began in 1931 with Karl Jansky's discovery of radio waves from an extraterrestrial source. After 1945, huge dish antennas, improved receivers and data-processing methods, and radio interferometers let astronomers study fainter sources and obtain greater detail. Radio waves penetrate much of the gas and dust in space, giving a much clearer picture of the centre and structure of the Milky Way Galaxy than optical observation can. This has allowed detailed studies of the interstellar medium in the Galaxy and the discovery of previously unknown cosmic objects (e.g., pulsars, quasars). In radar astronomy, radio signals are sent to near-Earth bodies or phenomena (e.g., meteor trails, the Moon, asteroids, nearby planets) and the reflections detected, providing precise measurement of the objects' distances and surface structure. Because radar waves can penetrate even dense clouds, they have provided astronomers' only maps of the surface of Venus. Radio and radar studies of the Moon revealed its sandlike surface before landings were made. Radio observations have also contributed greatly to knowledge about the Sun. Seealso radio telescope.
Learn more about radio and radar astronomy with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Electromagnetic radiation of lower frequency (hence longer wavelength) than visible light or infrared radiation, and consisting of the range of frequencies used for navigation signals, AM and FM broadcasting, television transmissions, cell-phone communications, and various forms of radar. For radio transmission, information is imparted to a carrier wave by varying (modulating) its amplitude, frequency, or duration. The technology of radio arose from the work of Michael Faraday, James Clerk Maxwell, Heinrich Hertz, Guglielmo Marconi, and others, and improvement followed the development of the vacuum tube, the electronic-tube oscillator, the tuned circuit, and other components. Later innovations have included the replacement of tubes by transistors and of wires by printed circuits. Seealso radio and radar astronomy.
Learn more about radio with a free trial on Britannica.com.
It encompasses various types of fixed, mobile, and portable two way radios, cellular telephones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and wireless networking. Other examples of wireless technology include GPS units, garage door openers and or garage doors, wireless computer mice, keyboards and headsets, satellite television and cordless telephones.
Wireless operations permits services, such as long range communications, that are impossible or impractical to implement with the use of wires. The term is commonly used in the telecommunications industry to refer to telecommunications systems (e.g., radio transmitters and receivers, remote controls, computer networks, network terminals, etc.) which use some form of energy (e.g. radio frequency (RF), infrared light, laser light, visible light, acoustic energy, etc.) to transfer information without the use of wires. Information is transferred in this manner over both short and long distances.
Wireless networking (i.e. the various flavors of unlicensed 2.4 GHz WiFi devices) is used to meet a variety of needs. Perhaps the most common use is to connect laptop users who travel from location to location. Another common use is for mobile networks that connect via satellite. A wireless transmission method is a logical choice to network a LAN segment that must frequently change locations. The following situations justify the use of wireless technology:
Wireless communication may be via:
The term "wireless" should not be confused with the term "cordless", which is generally used to refer to powered electrical or electronic devices that are able to operate from a portable power source (e.g., a battery pack) without any cable or cord to limit the mobility of the cordless device through a connection to the mains power supply. Some cordless devices, such as cordless telephones, are also wireless in the sense that information is transferred from the cordless telephone to the telephone's base unit via some type of wireless communications link. This has caused some disparity in the usage of the term "cordless", for example in Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications.
In the last 50 years, wireless communications industry experienced drastic changes driven by many technology innovations.
In the history of wireless technology, the demonstration of the theory of electromagnetic waves by Heinrich Rudolf Hertz in 1888 was important. The theory of electromagnetic waves were predicted from the research of James Clerk Maxwell and Michael Faraday. Hertz demonstrated that electromagnetic waves could be transmitted and caused to travel through space at straight lines and that they were able to be received by an experimental apparatus. The experiments were not followed up by Hertz and the practical applications of the wireless communication and remote control technology would be implemented by Nikola Tesla.
Light, colours, AM and FM radio, and electronic devices make use of the electromagnetic spectrum. In the US the frequencies that are available for use for communication are treated as a public resource and are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission. This determines which frequency ranges can be used for what purpose and by whom. In the absence of such control or alternative arrangements such as a privatized electromagnetic spectrum, chaos might result if, for example, airlines didn't have specific frequencies to work under and an amateur radio operator was interfering with the pilot's ability to land an airplane. Wireless communication spans the spectrum from 9 kHz to 300 GHz. (Also see Spectrum management)
Wireless technology may supplement or replace hard wired implementations in security systems for homes or office buildings.
Modern televisions use wireless (generally infrared) remote control units. Now we also use radio waves.
Perhaps the best known example of wireless technology is the cellular telephone and modems. These instruments use radio waves to enable the operator to make phone calls from many locations world-wide. They can be used anywhere that there is a cellular telephone site to house the equipment that is required to transmit and receive the signal that is used to transfer both voice and data to and from these instruments.
Wireless pioneers: builders and developers are now rolling out full-fledged wireless communities. Here's a look at three groundbreaking projects.
Jan 01, 2004; THE wireless WORLD THAT TECHNOLOGY EXPERTS have predicted for years is finally emerging. Scottsdale, Ariz.-based research...