Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Measuring Radio Waves
Name: Sergio S.
Status: student
Age: 16
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 3/13/2004

What do scientists use to measure radio waves? Is it expensive and/or hard to find?


Scientists usually use a device very similar to what you have on your radio or television. Scientists use an antenna. They set the antenna to be the correct length and have the correct angle for the waves they want to measure. They then connect the antenna to whatever device is appropriate. If they want to see the pattern, an oscilloscope works well. Oscilloscopes can be expensive. If they want to hear the signal, they use a less expensive device: a simple one-speaker radio. Digital radios with automatic tuners do not work well, but old-fashioned radios with knobs for tuners are good. Still, it is the antenna that is most important.

Dr. Ken Mellendorf
Physics Professor
Illinois Central College

Click here to return to the Physics Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory