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The Optics of LifeA Biologist's Guide to Light in Nature$
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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

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date: 13 December 2017

Units and Geometry

Units and Geometry

Chapter:
(p.8) Chapter Two Units and Geometry
Source:
The Optics of Life
Author(s):

Sönke Johnsen

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691139906.003.0002

This chapter explores units and geometry in light measurement. For biologists not working on humans, it comes down to a few simple rules: use photons not watts; use wavelength not frequency, but be extremely careful when comparing the peaks of light spectra to sensitivity curves; stick to measuring radiance and irradiance, but be a pioneer and add scalar irradiance measurements to your papers; irradiance sometimes obeys the inverse-square law; radiance rarely does; do not use photometric units, except possibly for lux. However, the underlying principle of weighted integrals is useful for modeling animal vision and other wavelength-dependent processes.

Keywords:   units, geometry, light measurement, photons, wavelength, radiance, irradiance, lux, animal vision

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