Lecture02.doc - LECTURE2 LighttheBasics

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     LECTURE 2 Light - the Basics Light is the fundamental way we communicate with the cosmos.  In the solar  system, we can obtain samples, visit planets and moons, collect particles, sometimes  particles fall to Earth.  But beyond the solar system, only light from distant bodies  reaches us. Thus to understand what it is that we see, we need to understand light. What is light? - Difficult to answer directly. Sometimes it behaves as a wave. A wave is a  disturbance  that travels through a medium; in the case of light, the  medium is space.  The medium is not transported from one place to another, only  the disturbance, the  wave. Sometimes behaves as a particle. A particle is a small, localized object that is physically transported from one place  to another. What determines which behavior light exhibits, depends on the way it is observed.  Both  manifestations are equivalent. As a wave, light is characterized by four quantities:
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Lecture02.doc - LECTURE2 LighttheBasics

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