Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
The Optics of LifeA Biologist's Guide to Light in Nature$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Sönke Johnsen

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691139906

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691139906.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of
date: 13 December 2017

Introduction

Introduction

Chapter:
(p.1) Chapter One Introduction
Source:
The Optics of Life
Author(s):

Sönke Johnsen

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691139906.003.0001

This introductory chapter provides an overview of light. In particle language, a beam of light is a stream of photons—small massless particles with energy and momentum that travel at high speeds. In wave language, a beam of light is a series of waves of changing electric and magnetic field strength that have phase, amplitude, and wavelength, and—like photons—travel at high speeds. To intuitively describe what light does, one has to jump back and forth between these two interpretations. Sometimes, the results of experiments with light are more easily predicted or intuited using the mathematics and metaphors appropriate to waves; and sometimes the results are better explained using the mathematics and metaphors appropriate to particles.

Keywords:   light, particles, photons, waves, electric field, magnetic field, photons

University Press Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .