Light Bits

Light bits are individual lesson plans that were conceived to be completed consecutively, but can be followed non-sequentially as well. What ties all these bits together is light.

Introduction to Light

What is light?

Light is a name for a range of electromagnetic radiation that can be detected by the eye.

Electromagnetic radiation can be either described as waves or as particles. If you think of the radiation as a wave, the amplitude is the brightness and the the wavelength is responsible for the color. The angle at which it vibrates, is the polarization. According to the quantum theory electromagnetic radiation is particle based. These particles, or photons, are packets of energy which move at the speed of light. According to this theory of light, the brightness of the light is the number of photons, the color of the light is the energy contained in each photon, and four numbers (X, Y, Z and T) are the polarization.
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The electromagnetic spectrum describes electromagnetic radiation of all wavelengths, and includes radio waves, microwaves, infrared, visible light, ultraviolet, x rays, gamma rays.

The different wavelengths and energies of electromagnetic radiation allow the types of radiation to have different effects on matter. Radio waves, for example, have such a long wave length and low energy that you cannot visually detect them or even feel them and they pass through our bodies. To capture and amplify radio waves, you need a metal antenna with special electronics. Infrared radiation is of wavelengths that are easily absorbed by matter and turned into heat, and x-rays pass through soft tissue but are stopped by bone.