Stroke, George W. Formerly, Department of Electrical Sciences, and Head, Electro-Optical Sciences Center, State University of New York, Stony Brook, New York.
Evenson, Kenneth M. Formerly, Time and Frequency Division, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Boulder, Colorado.
Bordo, Vladimir G. Mads Clausen Institute, Syddansk Universitet, Odense, Denmark.
Last reviewed:August 2018
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- Properties of light
- Speed of light
- Diffraction, reflection, and refraction
- Interference and polarization
- Chemical effects
- Light pressure
- Descriptions of light
- Wave phenomena
- Quantum phenomena
- Quantum theories
- Relativistic effects
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
In common usage, a kind of radiant energy associated with vision, but in the broader sense, the entire range of radiation known as the electromagnetic spectrum. The electromagnetic spectrum is a broad band of energy conveyed by elementary particles, known as photons, which are the force carriers of the electromagnetic force, one of the four fundamental interactions in nature. The spectrum extends over a range of wavelengths running from trillionths of a millimeter to hundreds of kilometers. Arranged in order of increasing wavelength, which equates to lower frequency and decreasing energy, the radiation making up the electromagnetic spectrum is categorized as gamma rays, x-rays, ultraviolet rays, visible light, infrared waves, microwaves, and radio waves (Fig. 1). The wavelengths in the visible light spectrum, which range from about 700 nanometers (nm, billionths of a meter) down to 390 nm, are perceived by the human eye and brain as distinct colors, often roughly categorized—from shorter to longer wavelength—as violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red. See also: Color vision; Electromagnetic radiation; Electromagnetism; Elementary particle; Eye (vertebrate); Fundamental interactions; Photon; Standard model
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