Questions tagged [light]

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Would they have known you can't go faster than light in 1790 [duplicate]

I came across this short: https://www.youtube.com/shorts/LjBaPxutpQo where Brian Cox says the idea of black holes dates back to 1790. It stemmed according to it from escape velocity and that you could ...
Rohit Pandey's user avatar
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1 answer
195 views

What was the reason Einstein included reflection from a moving mirror in his relativity paper?

Einstein, in his 1905 relativity paper Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies, allocates a section to the issue of reflection of light from a moving mirror and derives three formulas (angle, frequency, ...
Maesumi's user avatar
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How was light polarization interpreted when first discovered?

Malus first discovered light polarization just before 1810, but Maxwell's equation stuff came around 1860s. How was polarization interpreted before the EM theory?
Cosmos's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
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Why did Maxwell predict radiation pressure?

I know that Kepler thought based on comet tail that light might exert pressure (although is the Solar wind not also involved?) but did Maxwell's prediction stem from newer observations or from perhaps ...
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Light propagated instantaneously rather than gradually

In the following paper from I. Bernard Cohen, "Roemer and the First Determination of the Velocity of Light (1676)" published on Isis (1940): Can be read: explaining that the delay would ...
Jon's user avatar
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Who first stated the three polarizers experiment in quantum mechanics?

In my experience, Dirac is most often cited as the origin of this thought experiment. However, from what I've read in his Principles of Quantum Mechanics, he never actually introduces the idea with ...
Sam Gallagher's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
197 views

Does Fermat's Principle of Least Time imply that he believed light moved at a finite speed?

And if so, how did he imagine that light moved at different speeds in different media?
releseabe's user avatar
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Ideas about the speed of light between Galileo and Romer?

I know that the great Galileo made no real progress measuring the speed of light -- he disappointingly suggested that it might be infinite. I read that he concluded (based on his attempts to measure ...
releseabe's user avatar
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Diffraction pattern of Michelson's echelon

Has anyone used Michelson's echelon (pictured below), a very famous type of diffraction grating in the 1920s? I am wondering how did the diffraction image look like from this type of transmission ...
AChem's user avatar
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2 votes
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Did Newton ever use filtered or prism-dispersed colored light to view "Newton's rings" or other thin-film interference effects?

First please enjoy this wonderful answer to How did Newton explain his interference rings without wave optics? which describes the story behind what we now call Newton's rings. Below I show an example ...
uhoh's user avatar
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Validity of Maxwell's equations in the aether's reference frame

If Maxwell's equations were experimentally found on Earth such as Faradays law, coulombs law , and worked in the Earth's frame of reference, then why did people believe them to be valid in the aether'...
Kashmiri's user avatar
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When was single-slit diffraction first observed?

I was told it was Joseph von Fraunhofer who made the first observation that shining sun rays through a slit created faint rainbow fringes to the sides of the outgoing ray. Is there any evidence of ...
Maximal Ideal's user avatar
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How close were the slits in Young's experiment? [duplicate]

How close were the slits in the Young's double slit experiment in 1804 (the second one) and how were they realized? This is not a duplicate of this question: I am not asking about how the experiemnts ...
Marco Disce's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
302 views

Was it suspected that the speed of electricity was equal to the speed of light?

Was it believed early on that signals sent via wire moved at exactly the speed of light or simply very fast? Who was the first to estimate the speed? EDIT: Given that they move at less than the ...
releseabe's user avatar
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6 votes
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What was the original reason physicists first believed that light must follow a geodesic?

Context: One of the key reasons Einstein first suspected space is curved by mass is due to the falling elevator thought experiment. This experiment implies that mass must curve the path of a light ray....
Rory Cornish's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
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What was Isaac Newton's contribution to optics?

What was Isaac Newton's contribution to optics? I know that he believed in the corpuscular theory of light. Did he know about the laws of reflection ad refraction?
Solidification's user avatar
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Reference request concerning an alleged Jewish contribution to the early theory of light refraction, and to the first geometry textbook in Europe

Page 50 of the book Gustav Karpeles: A Sketch of Jewish History. Translated from the German [by an anonymous translator]. The Jewish Publication Society of America. 1897. contains the following ...
Peter Heinig's user avatar
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Speed of light in aether

I've been recently reading about the famous Michelson-Morley experimental attempt to detect the Earth motion with respect to the aether. According to Wikipedia, Michelson initially made a mistake ...
user avatar
5 votes
3 answers
960 views

"Tension" between Electromagnetism and Newton's laws

When talking about the inconsistencies in physics that led up to Einstein's discovery of relativity today's professors always say that Maxwell's discovery of the constant speed of light $c$ created a ...
alex's user avatar
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Why did Arago in 1810 not assume that the refraction angle is independant on the light speed?

I am readying on Arago's experiment of 1810 in a book on the history of physics. The author writes that Arago conducted the experiment assuming that light consisted of particles and that faster light ...
René Nyffenegger's user avatar
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1 answer
383 views

Why was the question of the nature of light limited to the wave theory or the particle one ?

The question is in the title. I'm obviously refering to the 17/18 th century somewhere around this era.
copper's user avatar
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How Einstein got the first idea for special relativity?

I am reading Big Bang by Simon Singh. Here is the short story (as I understood it): Einstein gets a contradiction by assuming that 1- The speed of light $c$ is constant with respect the ether. 2- ...
Smurf's user avatar
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12 votes
2 answers
875 views

How did people explain color before the splitting of white light was discovered?

We know that a body is red because it absorbs (visible) light of all wavelengths except that for the red. But before Newton showed that white light was actually made up of seven colors how did people ...
Raghav's user avatar
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3 votes
0 answers
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What was the need for Lorentz transformation in pre-relativity period?

Why was it necessary for the velocity of light to be invariant between different inertial frames and hence what was the need for Lorentz transformation when it was believed that velocity of light was ...
N.G.Tyson's user avatar
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0 answers
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Why were light bulbs traditionally marketed based on power consumption rather than light output?

Historically, incandestent light bulbs were marketed primarily by their power consumption in watt. I don't know if light output in lumen was specified at all. I'm not aware of any other electrical ...
gerrit's user avatar
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1 answer
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How exactly did Hertz's experiments confirm Maxwell's theory?

Hertz's experiments are said to have proven Maxwell's theory correct, but how exactly did his experiment do this?
Geremia's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
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Why is the Michelson–Morley experiment so much more famous than its rivals?

The first paragraph of Albert Einstein's paper On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies, written in 1905, mentions the failure of attempts to detect the earth's motion through the luminiferous aether. ...
Michael Hardy's user avatar
7 votes
2 answers
4k views

How did Maxwell conclude that light is an electromagnetic wave?

This is a copy of a question I just asked at Physics Stack Exchange. From reading the text on the related questions, it seems that Maxwell equated light with the carrier of electromagnetic force just ...
CTMacUser's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
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How did we come to the conclusion that light moves as fast as it does?

Scientist predict that light moves 3x108 m/s in a vacuum. Then, when light hits a medium like air, it goes into a medium with a different index and travels slower (I believe it indexes at 1.007 in air)...
Dashboarrd's user avatar
13 votes
2 answers
872 views

What were theories for why and how we see things?

That we see things seems unquestionably obvious. But, when I try to think about how, I find it as a mystery. The conventional answer nowadays to this question revolves around absorption and ...
Amit Tyagi's user avatar
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9 votes
1 answer
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What theories preceded the wave, particles and duality models of light?

Currently, the wave-particle duality model for light is the accepted model. From HyperPhysics: The evidence for the description of light as waves was well established at the turn of the century ...
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