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Exploring the Science of Light! (Optical Society of America)

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light : electromagnetic radiation of any wavelength that travels in a vacuum with a speed of 299,792,458 meters (about 186,000 miles) per second; specifically : such radiation that is visible to the human eye. — Webster

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Light is electromagnetic radiation within a certain portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. The word usually refers to visible light, which is the visible spectrum that is visible to the human eye and is responsible for the sense of sight. Visible light is usually defined as having wavelengths in the range of 400–700 nanometres (nm), or 4.00 × 10−7 to 7.00 × 10−7 m, between the infrared (with longer wavelengths) and the ultraviolet (with shorter wavelengths). This wavelength means a frequency range of roughly 430–750 terahertz (THz).

The main source of light on Earth is the Sun. Sunlight provides the energy that green plants use to create sugars mostly in the form of starches, which release energy into the living things that digest them. This process of photosynthesis provides virtually all the energy used by living things. Historically, another important source of light for humans has been fire, from ancient campfires to modern kerosene lamps. With the development of electric lights and power systems, electric lighting has effectively replaced firelight. Some species of animals generate their own light, a process called bioluminescence. For example, fireflies use light to locate mates, and vampire squids use it to hide themselves from prey.

The primary properties of visible light are intensity, propagation direction, frequency or wavelength spectrum, and polarization, while its speed in a vacuum, 299,792,458 metres per second, is one of the fundamental constants of nature. Visible light, as with all types of electromagnetic radiation (EMR), is experimentally found to always move at this speed in a vacuum.

In physics, the term light sometimes refers to electromagnetic radiation of any wavelength, whether visible or not. In this sense, gamma rays, X-rays, microwaves and radio waves are also light. Like all types of electromagnetic radiation, visible light propagates as waves. However, the energy imparted by the waves is absorbed at single locations the way particles are absorbed. The absorbed energy of the EM waves is called a photon, and represents the quanta of light. When a wave of light is transformed and absorbed as a photon, the energy of the wave instantly collapses to a single location, and this location is where the photon “arrives.” This is what is called the wave function collapse. This dual wave-like and particle-like nature of light is known as the wave–particle duality. The study of light, known as optics, is an important research area in modern physics. — Wikipedia

Optics (Eric Weisstein’s World of Physics, Wolfram Research)
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Optics is the branch of physics which involves the behavior and properties of light, including its interactions with matter and the construction of instruments that use or detect it. Optics usually describes the behavior of visible, ultraviolet, and infrared light. Because light is an electromagnetic wave, other forms of electromagnetic radiation such as X-rays, microwaves, and radio waves exhibit similar properties.

Most optical phenomena can be accounted for using the classical electromagnetic description of light. Complete electromagnetic descriptions of light are, however, often difficult to apply in practice. Practical optics is usually done using simplified models. The most common of these, geometric optics, treats light as a collection of rays that travel in straight lines and bend when they pass through or reflect from surfaces. Physical optics is a more comprehensive model of light, which includes wave effects such as diffraction and interference that cannot be accounted for in geometric optics. Historically, the ray-based model of light was developed first, followed by the wave model of light. Progress in electromagnetic theory in the 19th century led to the discovery that light waves were in fact electromagnetic radiation.

Some phenomena depend on the fact that light has both wave-like and particle-like properties. Explanation of these effects requires quantum mechanics. When considering light’s particle-like properties, the light is modeled as a collection of particles called “photons”. Quantum optics deals with the application of quantum mechanics to optical systems.

Optical science is relevant to and studied in many related disciplines including astronomy, various engineering fields, photography, and medicine (particularly ophthalmology and optometry). Practical applications of optics are found in a variety of technologies and everyday objects, including mirrors, lenses, telescopes, microscopes, lasers, and fiber optics. — Wikipedia

Encyclopædia Britannica

Discovery

Scientists & Discovery, Light (Museum Victoria Australia)

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How Light Works (HowStuffWorks)

Preservation

History

Optics Timeline (Optical Society of America)
A History of Light and Lighting (Bill Williams)

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Quotations Page Bartlett’s

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The Museum of Optics (University of Arizona)

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WorldCat, Library of Congress, UPenn Online Books, Open Library

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OER Commons: Open Educational Resources

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Careers in Optics and Photonics (Optical Society of America)

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International Society for Optics and Phontonics (SPIE)
Optical Society of America

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International Society for Optics and Phontonics (SPIE)
Nature of Light (Science Daily)
Optics and Photonics News (Phys.org), Optics (Science 2.0), NPR Archives

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USA.gov

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We Are One Step Closer to a Lightsaber (Darren Orf, Popular Mechanics
Scientists Catch Up With Jedi in Understanding Light (Richard Adhikari, TechNewsWorld)

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OEDILF: The Omnificent English Dictionary In Limerick Form

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Optics.org News latest News from Optics.org


Optics News -- ScienceDaily Optics. Can light go backwards? Researchers push the limits of our understanding of light. Also see amazing new applications of light energy. Full-text, images, free.

  • Cascaded metasurfaces for dynamic control of THz...
    on July 23, 2021 at 4:14 pm

    Researchers have developed a general framework and metadevices for achieving dynamic control of THz wavefronts. Instead of locally controlling the individual meta-atoms in a THz metasurface (e.g., via PIN diode, varactor, etc.), they vary the polarization of a light beam with rotating multilayer cascaded metasurfaces.

  • Reverse optogenetic tool developed
    on July 23, 2021 at 2:53 pm

    A new optogenetic tool, a protein that can be controlled by light, has been characterized by researchers. They used an opsin -- a protein that occurs in the brain and eyes -- from zebrafish and introduced it into the brain of mice. Unlike other optogenetic tools, this opsin is not switched on but rather switched off by light. Experiments also showed that the tool could be suitable for investigating changes in the brain that are responsible for the development of epilepsy.

  • Antimatter from laser pincers
    on July 22, 2021 at 3:30 pm

    An international physics team has proposed a new concept that may allow selected cosmic extreme processes to be studied in the laboratory in the future. A special setup of two high-intensity laser beams could create conditions similar to those found near neutron stars, for example. An antimatter jet is generated and accelerated very efficiently, as the experts report.

  • Scientists make X-ray vision-like camera to...
    on July 22, 2021 at 3:30 pm

    Researchers describe a new type of camera technology that, when aimed at an object, can rapidly retrieve 3D images, displaying its chemical content down to the micrometer scale.

  • Infrared held in a pincer
    on July 22, 2021 at 3:29 pm

    Many applications, from fiber-optic telecommunications to biomedical imaging processes require substances that emit light in the near-infrared range (NIR). A research team has now developed the first chromium complex that emits light in the coveted, longer wavelength NIR-II range. The team has introduced the underlying concept: a drastic change in the electronic structure of the chromium caused by the specially tailored ligands that envelop it.


Optics & Photonics News - Optics, Photonics, Physics News The latest news on Optics and Photonics

  • Dalian Coherent Light Source reveals strong...
    on July 23, 2021 at 6:00 pm

    Recently, a research group led by Prof. Yuan Kaijun and Prof. Yang Xueming from the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics (DICP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences revealed strong isotope effects in photodissociation of the water isotopologue (HOD) using the Dalian Coherent Light Source.

  • Cascaded metasurfaces for dynamic control of THz...
    on July 23, 2021 at 4:17 pm

    Electromagnetic (EM) waves in the terahertz (THz) regime contribute to important applications in communications, security imaging, and bio- and chemical sensing. Such wide applicability has resulted in significant technological progress. However, due to weak interactions between natural materials and THz waves, conventional THz devices are typically bulky and inefficient. Although ultracompact active THz devices do exist, current electronic and photonic approaches to dynamic control have lacked […]

  • Generation and application of the high-Q...
    on July 23, 2021 at 2:39 pm

    In a new publication from Opto-Electronic Advances, researchers led by Professor Liu Yan from Xidian University, China and Professor Gan Xuetao from Northwestern Polytechnical University, China, consider generation and application of the high-Q resonance in all-dielectric metasurfaces.

  • A new theory to explain the transparency of...
    on July 23, 2021 at 1:53 pm

    The electrons of some metal oxides, due to their large effective mass when coupled with the ionic lattice of the material, cannot follow the electric field of light and allow it to pass through the material. Transparent and conductive materials are used in smartphone touch screens and solar panels for photovoltaic energy.

  • Antimatter from laser pincers
    on July 22, 2021 at 4:16 pm

    In the depths of space, there are celestial bodies where extreme conditions prevail: Rapidly rotating neutron stars generate super-strong magnetic fields. And black holes, with their enormous gravitational pull, can cause huge, energetic jets of matter to shoot out into space. An international physics team with the participation of the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) has now proposed a new concept that could allow some of these extreme processes to be studied in the laboratory in […]