Nature of Light

Nature of Light
Copyright © 2008 by Sunil Thakur 



Wave particle duality ensures that nature of light remains an enigma. In fact, physics does not even attempt to explain what light is, we only know how light behaves in specific conditions. This paper presents the most comprehensive analysis of the nature of light including an exploration into structural part of the electromagnetic waves. The results are startling and yet utterly simple to interpret.

Considering the importance of the subject, I have kept the discussion reasonably non-technical so that the subject remains within the reach of even a non-physicist. Even the experiments selected specifically for this article can be performed and interpreted by a high-school student. 

Wave-particle duality ensures that nature of light remains an enigma. We do not understand nature of light and there is almost complete agreement amongst physicist that we cannot explain what light is, we can only explain how it behaves and what it does. Of course, I am not referring to light only as visible light but light as electromagnetic wave of any wavelength or frequency.

There are three main issues related to the nature of light that we need to sort out; two of these issues are identified by Einstein.

Einstein observes, „All these fifty years of conscious brooding have brought me no nearer to the answer to the question, ‚What are light quanta?“

This is a very significant observation esp. as it comes from a person who revived particle theory of light. The observations confirms that we do not know what light is!

Einstein makes another very important observation on the nature of light,

„……There are therefore now two theories of light, both indispensable, and – as one must admit today in spite of twenty years of tremendous effort on the part of theoretical physicists – without any logical connections.“ 

Thus, as identified by Einstein, nature of light quanta and apparent lack of logical relationship between wave theory of light and particle theory of light are two important unresolved issues concerning nature of light.

There is one more issue that we must resolve conclusively, ‚is light information or is light carrier of information?‘

Our current theories suggest that light is the carrier of the information but we have no theoretical model that explains how photons or electromagnetic waves or whatever properties we may assign to light communicates the information. We just assume that light is carrier of information but do not have any experimental evidence that supports this idea and hence we need to examine this assumed property of light in detail.

We also need to remind ourselves that complexities arising out of wave-particle duality get compounded with Louise De Broglie’s suggestion that every particle is also a wave. It appears to be quite an imaginative suggestion but Clinton Davisson has confirmed it experimentally.

Strange are the ways of nature, or so it seems to a mind that entertains duality.

De Broglie’s suggestion and its experimental confirmation by Clinton Davisson suggest that proper understanding of the nature of light can help us understand nature of reality. Thus, this analysis of nature of light is very important for understanding of the nature of reality.


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See also: Nature of Reality


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