Science of light

 Science of light-01

Lesson one


    God is Light – and while this is by no means an adequate definition of Divine Being, it is true that the infinitude of Light approaches about as near as the finite mind of man can hope to come in an understanding of His Nature.  



    The sun of our solar system is the brightest light which is evident to our sense of vision, and of course it is also much more than that, acting as the very sustainer of all life on earth.  For this reason it was often worshipped by the ancients, its radiance appearing as a perfect symbol for the Mediator who functions between natural man and the great Invisible Light and Being of God.



    The sun is sometimes called the great Healing Benefactor, assisting generously in the restoration of health to those who have gotten off-balance.  Persons with most types of illness, who are not at a crucial stage, are encouraged to spend some time in the sunshine each day, making sure to exercise moderation and good judgment, to measure the time thus spent, for one must avoid overexposure to its powerful rays.  We have all experienced the joyous lilt that comes with morning sunshine, and this does much to lift the spirits, another important factor in healing, and in arousing the desire to get better.



    What is light physically, and how does one explain it in simple terms which can be readily understood?  It is so primary in essence that the principles it is based upon transcend the ordinary experience; but although no terms are adequate to define it, the nature of light can be described by enumerating its various properties, as determined by logic and experimentation.  Such knowledge is still incomplete, but great strides have been made in the past 350 years.



Particles or Waves?


    About 2500 years ago, the Pythagorean school of ancient Greece assumed that all visible objects emit a steady stream of light particles.  Later, in the fourth century, Aristotle claimed that light travels somewhat like waves.  These two theories seemed irreconcilable, and through the centuries there remained the two schools of thought, which slight modifications; but until the seventeenth century, very little actual knowledge was available.  One group asserted that light is energy, gliding through space much as ripples across water; and the other faction held that light is a flight of fast-moving particles, something like drops of water being forcibly sprayed from a hose – or as Newton saw it, like a shower of light particles shot from a luminous object.  The latter was called the corpuscular theory.  Due to the advance of technology, and refinement of instruments used for experimentation, only recently has it been shown that light energy has both particles and wave behaviors.




    By scientific definition, light is one of many different kinds of electromagnetic radiation in the part of the spectrum which includes infrared, visible light, ultraviolet, and x-rays.  These light rays all travel at the same rate of speed (in a vacuum), this speed being measured at close to 186,282 miles per second.  In a material medium, however, the velocity of light is affected by its wave-length.

Lesson one, page 2


    All radiations emitted from a luminous body move through space in perfect rhythmic vibration.  Light is a form of energy traveling through the universe in waves like those on a body of water; and while not directly visible as the crests and troughs of waves on water, their presence can be demonstrated by indirect methods.


    The distance between the topmost point of one wave crest, and that of the crest next to it, is called one wavelength.


    Therefore, although the speed of travel is the same for various types of light, the distance between the wave crests determines the vibratory rate, called frequency, or number of vibrations per second at which they oscillate.  Those with higher frequency have move wave crests per unit of measurement, are spaced closer together, and these are vibrating faster, though their beams or rays reach the goal simultaneously with the slower longer waves which are spaced farther apart.  There is an unimaginable difference in wave-lengths between one type of electro-magnetic energy and another.         


    Some idea of vibrations can be illustrated by a long stretched string.  If it is struck at one end, a hump will form and it will travel the full length of the string, but the form itself remains.  In waver waves, the quantify remains but the form is displaced.  With light in free space, the form is unchanged by any object or refractive medium interrupts this simplicity of




    Any wave is a vibrating motion that travels along.  In sound waves this vibration is forward and backward as the waves go on, but in light waves it is from side to side.  Nothing really quivers or wiggles as light moves along.  Instead, the waves are made up of electrical and magnetic forces that get stronger and weaker at regular intervals.  The important thing is that these forces are crosswise to the way the waves are traveling.


    Light waves are about 1/50,000 of an inch in length.  At the other end of the scale, some waves of radio are more than a mile in length.


    Though we tend to choose water waves as a simple illustration for the measurements of wave lengths, there is, in fact, quite a difference between the nature of water and light waves.


    Wave motion appears in almost every branch of physics.  Besides water waves, there are also sound waves, light waves, radio waves and other electromagnetic waves.  One formulation of the mechanics of atoms and subatomic particles is called wave mechanics.

Lesson one, page 3


    Mechanical waves, such as occur in water or a coiled metal spring, are characterized by the transport of energy through matter by the motion of the disturbance of that matter, without any corresponding bulk motion of the matter itself.  It is necessary to have a material medium to transmit mechanical waves.


    We do not need such a medium however, to transmit electro-magnetic waves. Light passes freely, for example, through the near-vacuum of space from the stars.


Some things to remember about electromagnetic waves:  (See graph below)


1.  The electric and magnetic fields have maxima and minima at the same times and in the same places, therefore these variations occur simultaneously in both fields.

These travel in waves at right angles to each other.


2.  The directions of the electric and magnetic fields are perpendicular to each other and to the direction in which the waves are moving.  Light waves are therefore transverse waves (i.e. from side to side).


3.  Nothing material moves in the path of an electro-magnetic wave.  The only changes are in the electric and magnetic field intensities.




    The corpuscles of light are like tiny particles of packaged energy, and are called photons, or light quanta.  The different colors of light are explained as having photons of different energy – those of blue light possessing twice the amount of energy as those of red.  It is also held that the energy of the photons is directly proportional to the frequency of the light-waves.  For example, while x-rays have a wave-like character, their higher frequency gives the particles great penetrating power, allowing them to be used for taking pictures through matter which is opaque to visible light.  Their higher energy and particle-like nature is explained by the photon theory. 


The Encyclopedia Britannica says: 


“According to the present view, light has a dual nature, such that it may be represented equally well by waves, or by corpuscles (or photons).  The two are merely complementary aspects of the same reality.”


Both light and matter may behave either as waves or corpuscles.


Lesson one, page 4


“It has been found that electrons, protons, neutrons and the other elementary constituents of matter possess wavelike characteristics.” 


                 The light arising from an atom has a spherical wave form.


Scattered Light


    When light strikes on an atom, it causes electrons to re-emit light.  The quality of this scattered light will depend upon the nature of the atoms, as well as on the source of light.  The compounding effect of a number of atoms produces a mixture of light reaction as it strikes the atoms.  The most primitive example of scattering is the light in the sky, where light from the sun will have scattered through as broad path of atoms between itself and the observer, the atoms unsystematic and irregular in placement.  In working with crystals, whose atoms are in orderly position, the light is focused according to specified intentions.


Beams and Rays

    A narrow path of light is usually called a beam of light.  A flashlight or a searchlight throws a beam.  If the beam is made much narrower, it amounts to a ray.  To show how light moves from one place to another, one might draw a bundle of rays of light which could be thought of as tiny arrows moving through space.  This bundle again would be called a beam of light.  They are a combination of electric and magnetic forces traveling along together at enormous speed.  (electromagnetic waves)


    In one short second light travels fast enough to more than circle the globe seven times.  When light goes through a transparent substance, such as glass or water, it is slowed down.  It can travel only about two-thirds as fast through a piece of glass as it can through empty space or air, and about three-quarters as fast through water as through air.  This slowing down is important, as it makes it possible for us to bend beams of light, and thus to make prisms, lenses, eye-glasses, telescopes, microscopes, cameras and other devices that help us to see better.



    For all practical purposes, light travels in a straight line, until it becomes deflected by striking a medium of different density, whereupon it will change its velocity and direction.  However, there is a variance from straight line paths too fine for the eye to detect.  For Father Paul stated that “light rays travel in a curved line, due to the action of gravity, or the gravitational fields.”


When light strikes a reflective medium, such as a mirror, a pool of water, or any other surface, the ray will bounce off in the opposite direction at exactly the same degree of angle as that from which it came.  Light may bounce in many ways, but it always follows this simple rule:

The angle of incidence (or approach) is always equal to the angle of refraction (or departure).”  A ray beamed at right angles to a surface will only reflect back into itself.”




Lesson one, page 5



    When a light ray moves from one substance to another so that its speed is changed, the ray changes direction.  This is called refraction.


    There are some objects which do not reflect light, but permit it to pass through, while slowing it down somewhat, according to the density of the object.  Water, which is denser than air, will slow the light velocity by about one-fourth, while glass which is more dense, will slow its speed of travel by one-third.  One can observe the changed effect in water, by dangling an object partially below and partially above the water’s surface.


    Light directed head-on at a medium such as glass will not deflect or bend the ray of light.  It will pass straight through.  In order for refraction to occur, light must strike the medium at an angle other than 90°.  Thus the spectrum colors reach the edge of the surface in different time sequence, so they are “surprised” into manifesting one by one in the rainbow colors of the spectrum.


    Further discussion of such terms as double refraction, diffraction and polarization might tend to cloud the issue with non-essentials for some, while others with a scientific bent of mind can gain a great deal by studying any good encyclopedia, and the experiments made with light.


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