35 - The Nature of Light

35 - The Nature of Light - Light and Optics ight is basic...

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Light and Optics ight is basic to almost all life on the Earth. Plants convert the energy trans- ferred by sunlight to chemical energy through photosynthesis. In addition, light is the principal means by which we are able to transmit and receive informa- tion to and from objects around us and throughout the Universe. The nature and properties of light have been a subject of great interest and spec- ulation since ancient times. The Greeks believed that light consisted of tiny particles (corpuscles) that were emitted by a light source and that these particles stimulated the perception of vision upon striking the observer’s eye. Newton used this particle theory to explain the reflection and refraction (bending) of light. In 1678, one of Newton’s contemporaries, the Dutch scientist Christian Huygens, was able to explain many other properties of light by proposing that light is a wave. In 1801, Thomas Young showed that light beams can interfere with one another, giving strong support to the wave theory. In 1865, Maxwell developed a brilliant theory that electromag- netic waves travel with the speed of light (see Chapter 34). By this time, the wave theory of light seemed to be firmly established. However, at the beginning of the twentieth century, Max Planck returned to the particle theory of light to explain the radiation emitted by hot objects. Einstein then used the particle theory to explain how electrons are emitted by a metal exposed to light. Today, scientists view light as having a dual nature—that is, light exhibits charac- teristics of a wave in some situations and characteristics of a particle in other situa- We shall discuss the particle nature of light in Part 6 of this text, which addresses modern physics. In Chapters 35 through 38, we concentrate on those aspects light that are best understood through the wave model. First, we discuss the reflection of light at the boundary between two media and the refraction that occurs as light travels from one medium into another. Then, we use these ideas to study reflection and refraction as light forms images due to mirrors and lenses. Next, we describe how the lenses and mirrors used in such instruments as telescopes and microscopes help us view objects not clearly visible to the naked eye. Finally, we study the phenomena of diffraction, polarization, and interference as they apply L PART 5 ± The Grand Tetons in western Wyoming are reflected in a smooth lake at sunset. The optical principles that we study in this part of the book will explain the nature of the reflected image of the mountains and why the sky appears red. (David Muench/CORBIS) 1093
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Chapter 35 The Nature of Light and the Laws of Geometric Optics CHAPTER OUTLINE 35.1 The Nature of Light 35.2 Measurements of the Speed of Light 35.3 The Ray Approximation in Geometric Optics 35.4 Reflection 35.5 Refraction 35.6 Huygens’s Principle 35.7 Dispersion and Prisms 35.8 Total Internal Reflection 35.9 Fermat’s Principle 1094 ± This photograph of a rainbow shows a distinct secondary rainbow with the colors re- versed. The appearance of the rainbow depends on three optical phenomena discussed in
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This note was uploaded on 02/24/2011 for the course PHYS 102 taught by Professor Wang during the Spring '11 term at Nanjing University.

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35 - The Nature of Light - Light and Optics ight is basic...

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