Some of you may recognize the title of this blog as an R.E.M. song from the 90s (which was named after an incident involving reporter Dan Rather). You might be wondering, what’s frequency? If you're reading this blog, it means you are either a user of or interested in vibroacoustic therapy, where the term frequency is often used. However, in many cases frequency can be confusing and misleading.
Frequency, as a word, refers to the number of occurrences of a repeating event per unit of time. In physics, we use the term frequency to describe the number of times a propagating waveform, such as sound, light, or radio waves, oscillates per second.
The term “frequencies” is misleading since it only indicates that waveforms are present, not what type of waveforms they are. A wifi signal, an FM radio signal and an x-ray are all electro-magnetic “frequencies” but they are vastly different things and have significantly different impacts on humans. All of these are what we refer to as non-native EMF but an FM radio signal is vastly less harmful than an x-ray. So what really matters is which kind of EMF is present and at what power level.
Adding to the confusion is the fact that we use the same term "frequency" to measure electromagnetic waves, as we do for slower physical or mechanical waves like ocean waves, seismic waves, and most importantly, sound waves. Sound and light are not the same, which is why we have ears for sound and eyes for light.
While it’s true that both sound and light (sunlight is native-EMF) are both waves with frequencies, they are entirely different types of energy, with vastly different frequencies. I often joke that EMF (electromagnetic frequencies) and sound are like milk and gasoline – they may share some similarities, such as both being liquids and measured in gallons, but that's where the similarities end. They are fundamentally different.
Sound is a physical "pressure wave" that requires a medium (such as air, water, wood, or metal) to propagate, similar to how ocean waves move through water. Sound travels at a speed of about 760 miles per hour (many jets fly faster) and has a frequency range between 0 Hz and 20,000 Hz.