# Tag Info

11

The wave and the particle (or corpuscular) theories of light go back to the 17-th century and are often associated with Huygens and Newton, respectively, as their founders. What preceeded them was called geometric optics, where light consisted of rays connecting an eye to an object. There were two theories in geometric optics too. According to the emission ...

9

On a common sense view color requires no "explanation": the world is full of objects, they have qualities (properties) — size, shape, weight, texture, etc. — color is one of them. This was systematized in Aristotle's qualitative physics, qualities were the constituents of "substances" forming objects, and our perceptions arise from their mixtures. Ancient ...

9

As per your comment: Were there any other theories challenging them in the past? This topic was briefly discussed on Neil deGrasse Tyson's reincarnation of the TV show Cosmos. While I obviously can't insert the episode here (and can't recall which one it was, anyway), I can explain the basic premises of the early alternate theories, from other sources. ...

8

For a long time it was not only believed but even ascertained that electric signals moved not just as fast but faster than light, even "instantaneously". The original experiments involving electrostatic discharges of the Leyden jar were made even before wires were introduced. According to Fahie's History of Electric Telegraphy, one of the early experimenters,...

7

Maxwell had at least three arguments in favor of the conjecture on electromagnetic nature of light. The first one was philosophical (Chap. XX, section 781). He could not imagine waves propagating in empty space, so for the electromagnetic wave he had to assume the existence of some medium that fills the space. Then he writes: To fill the space with a new ...

6

Aristotle' s explanation of color was as follows: "Firstly, white and black may be juxtaposed in such a way that by the minuteness of of the division of its parts each is invisible while their product is visible, and thus colour may be produced. This product can appear neither white nor black, but, since it must have some colour and can have neithe rof the ...

5

Because it was the most accurate. The use of interferometers to measure length deviations eliminated the concern that the ether wind didn't register because the instruments were too blunt, or because the experimenters were too clutz. Remember that everything else up to that point confirmed ether, and Hertz confirmed it some more in 1887 by detecting ...

4

It is the so-called Fermat Principle in geometric optics: light chooses the path which takes it least time to travel. Since the speed of light (in the given homogeneous medium) is constant, this must be the shortest path. Later refinements tell us that it is not always shortest but anyway its length must be stationary. Which exactly means a geodesic for some ...

4

Contribution of Newton to optics is enormous. He is considered a founding father of physical optics. I can only give some examples. His main discovery was that the sunlight can be dissolved into colors (spectrum). The discovery which lead to spectroscopy, and eventually to quantum mechanics. He also analysed what is called "Newton rings" (discovered by Hooke ...

4

Einstein was reading Maxwell. Axiom a) follows from Maxwell's electromagnetic theory of light. Axiom b) is stated imprecisely in your message. The actual axiom is that you cannot detect the absolute motion of the observer (or that the laws of nature must be independent of the motion of the observer (rectilinear and with constant speed)). This is the ...

3

Einstein himself wrote, in a letter of 14 December 1915 to Moritz Schlick, that he was primarily inspired by David Hume and Ernst Mach. According to the paper How Hume and Mach Helped Einstein Find Special Relativity, "It was more Hume than Mach." Quoting from Einstein's letter to Schlick: Your exposition is also quite right that positivism suggested ...

2

This article on the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers site gives a detailed account of the history involved. For those not wishing to read the entire article, I provide the relevant points here. Hertz’s experimental work on the subject began at the Technische Hochschule (now the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology) in Karlsruhe, Germany, ...

2

I think it was speculated even before Maxwell that light might be an electromagnetic wave, or that there is a connection between electromagnetism and light. It is true that Maxwell did not prove it, but - as you say - his equations for the first time rigorously predicted electromagnetic waves (and also all other electromagnetic phenomena). Perhaps the ...

2

someone had to ask "velocity relative to which observer" right? They thought it was relative to the frame of the aether. People like Lorentz also knew ca. 1880-1895 that any observable effect of motion relative to the aether would vanish until you got to at least order $(v/c)^4$. They understood that the electric and magnetic fields would transform when you ...

2

Possible sources : For Dioscorides, we have Moses Hamon that owned a famous Ms of De Materia Medica (later known as : Vienna Dioscurides) and sold it, through Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq (a Flemish writer, herbalist and diplomat that served as ambassador to the Ottoman Empire in Constantinople) to the Holy Roman Emperor. Regarding geometry, the first Latin ...

1

This is an extended comment on the answer of @Pentcho Valev. In his first paper on relativity Einstein does not mention the Micheson-Morley experiment. When asked later he said that this was not of crucial importance for him. As I understand, of prime importance was careful reading of Maxwell and thinking about what Maxwell's theory implies. Maxwell's theory ...

1

Concerning Einstein's relativity, there was only one relevant contradiction in physics before 1905: The ether theory had (wrongly) predicted that the speed of light is independent of the speed of the light source while Newton's emission theory of light had (correctly) said that the speed of light does vary with the speed of the source. The Michelson-Morley ...

1

A possible simple answer is that experiments on light manifested only the wave aspect of light behaviour or the particle one. These two aspects were not compatible, in the sense that light behaved as waves or behaved like particle depending on the nature of the experiment done. Heisemberg attributed this duality to the insufficience of our language to ...

1

We see objects because objects emit their own light. How? The electrons which orbit inside the atoms which comprise the object interact with ambient light radiation. This causes the electrons to switch to higher orbits. Then, inexplicably, the electrons return to their original orbit, and in that process emit photons which our eyes detect. Thus ...

Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible