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p. 11. What is light?locked

  • Ian Walmsley


Light plays a fundamental role in life. ‘What is light?’ considers light’s physical properties—brightness, intensity, colour, polarization, and warmth—and how their application enables light to be used to discern, to measure, and to control properties of material substances. The origins of optics lie in the work of 4th-century bce Greek philosophers, but it was the fundamental work of several scientists in the 19th century—Michael Faraday, Hans Christian Oersted, André-Marie Ampère, Charles Augustin de Coulomb, Alessandro Volta, Georg Ohm, James Clerk Maxwell, and Heinrich Hertz—that made the connection between visible light and other parts of the light spectrum, including ultraviolet light, microwaves, and X-rays, enabling new technologies and further discoveries.

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