## How can an antenna be short and still work as well as a long one?

#### How can an antenna be short and still work as well as a long one?

The length of an antenna is very important. If the antenna is too short, the charges will reach its end too soon and the charge will not flow very smoothly back and forth in it. If the antenna is too long, the charges will not reach its end before it is time for them to reverse directions and some of the antenna will not be used (it will actually cause more trouble than help). Thus there is an ideal length for the antenna and this length depends on the frequency of the radio wave it is trying to create. But it is also possible to shorten an antenna by delaying the flow of charge to its ends. Adding a coil to the antenna (an inductor) will slow the flow of current through the antenna and make a short antenna behave like a longer antenna. Most portable AM radios use a coiled antenna that behaves as though it were much longer than its physical length. FM radios work best with antennas that are about 1 meter long.

## Why do radio waves travel better at night?

#### Why do radio waves travel better at night?

AM radio waves travel remarkably long distances near dusk because of the behavior of the earth’s atmosphere. A layer in the upper atmosphere, the ionosphere, contains many electrically charged particles and it behaves like a poor electrical conductor. Its conductivity improves in the early evening. When low frequency radio waves encounter this conducting layer, it responds to them and reflects them just like a mirror reflects light. As a result, you can hear very distant radio stations as their waves bounce of the ionosphere. FM transmissions occur at high frequencies that are too fast for the ionosphere to reflect.

## How does the distance between the transmitting antenna and the receiving antenna…

#### How does the distance between the transmitting antenna and the receiving antenna affect the amount of current flowing between the two systems?

Actually, there is no current flowing between the two systems. Current flowing up and down the transmitting antenna causes current to flow up and down the receiving antenna, but there is no direct connection between the two and they do not share any current. That explains how an isolated radio can still receive music. But the amount of current flowing in the receiving antenna does depend on its distance from the transmitting antenna. When the two are very close, the charge in the receiving antenna responds directly to the charge moving on the transmitting antenna. As they move apart, this direct response quickly dwindles to virtually nothing. In its place, a new effect appears. The transmitting antenna creates radio waves that exist apart from the accelerating charges that created them. The strength of the radio wave diminishes in power roughly as the square of the distance from the transmitting antenna. The electric and magnetic fields diminish in power roughly in proportion to this distance. The current flowing in the receiving antenna also falls roughly in proportion to this distance.