Show Summary Details

p. 524. Dualitylocked

  • Ian Walmsley


‘Duality’ considers how the two different models of light—particle and wave—were reconciled. The dualism issue was partially resolved by William Rowan Hamilton in his ‘optical analogy’ following on from the work of Pierre de Fermat and Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz. But there were still unsolved puzzles: neither model could explain the colour of hot objects or the colour of different atoms in a flame. As a result of studies undertaken by Johannes Balmer, Max Planck, Niels Bohr, and Paul Dirac, the resolution of wave–particle duality is a new concept: the quantum field. Light particles—photons—are excitations of this field, which propagates according to quantum versions of Maxwell’s equations for light waves.

Access to the complete content on Very Short Introductions online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.