Downriver Dispatches

News of Western Wahkiakum County and Naselle

 


Let There Be Light

As a bored teenager walking down the aisles of my high school library perusing the book shelves for nothing in particular, one book caught my eye and would forever change the way I looked at light. I even asked myself why this particular book would even be in a high school library because there were no studies in this particular field of science at my school. The book was written by a very well-known theoretical physicist by the name of Albert Einstein. His book The Theory of Relativity and Other Essays was written in 1950, and to me it was just an out of date book in 1968. Although Einstein’s ideas were revolutionary theories on a variety of things, it was the electromagnetic frequencies of the properties of light that caught my attention.

This reminded me of the Sunday School at church where I learned about God being light. I thought of the scripture from the King James Version of the Bible. In the book of Genesis it states, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day."


For whatever reasons that scripture would be implanted into my brain and came alive again when I read Einstein’s book. It opened the doors of knowledge that had me entertained about light and frequencies for the next decade. It paved the way for me to study missile electronics and radar frequencies with a high security clearance while in the United States Army. This only added to my curiosity about light, physics, and electromagnetic waves.

Rhett Allain, an associate professor of physics at Southeastern Louisiana University, wrote an article for "Wired" indicating that different wavelengths of light interact differently with matter. He said that there is the electromagnetic spectrum of electromagnetic waves of all different wavelengths, “from larger than 1 meter (radio waves) to less than 10 picometers (gamma rays - but they are still waves).”

The common classification of the electromagnetic spectrum going from large wavelengths to small is radio, microwaves, infrared, visible light, ultraviolet, X-rays, and gamma rays. These amazing electromagnetic waves all travel at the same speed of light.


Electromagnetic waves have different connections with matter. One example is when your mobile phone still acquires information from a cell tower because these radio waves pass through most walls, whereas, visible light does not pass through most walls. In physics, light refers to electromagnetic radiation of any wavelength, whether visible or not.

Over the years I have added to the trivial data concerning matter as electromagnetic frequencies. All the atoms in the universe oscillate at different frequencies depending on their connection to each other and they put out energy in the form of light like an infinite rainbow. We cannot see all the different frequencies except what fits in our visible spectrum from infrared to ultraviolet.

Because light is infinite and cannot necessarily be measurable, imagine if its length was to reach from New York To Los Angeles. If that is true then what you are able to see in this infinite spectrum would only be the width of a common dime.

 

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