Although this might seem really strange and not intuitive, that’s the method physicists use to deal with the wave-particle duality of light! What is that? We’re talking about the wave particle duality of light.
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How was it possible to understand this double nature of light? What were the most important experiments that led to this discovery? These and other questions are the main topic of this subject, so, if you are interested, stick with me and prepare to an extraordinary journey in the wave particle duality of electromagnetic radiation.
We’re dealing with one of the most important revolutions in science, that has brought to the development of Quantum Mechanics, actually the most precise model that we have to describe the world, particularly at very small sizes like those of atoms and particles. To understand this concept better we’ll proceed step by step considering how different researchers have expressed themselves about the nature of light in the course of history.
Around one century later, an experiment carried by Thomas Young in 1801 apparently ended the debate regarding the wave particle duality of light: the double slit experiment. What was it about? Let’s start with a more simplified version, called the “single slit experiment”. It’s based on firing light through a slit that allows it to reach a screen. If light consisted strictly of ordinary or classical particles, we would expect to see a pattern corresponding to the size and shape of the slit.
So, this version of the experiment confirms the wavy nature of light. What does it happen if we use two different slits of the same size? The pattern on the screen gets more pronounced with a series of dark and light bands.
Although the major experiments and laws were elaborated by Faraday and Henry, the man who gave the major contribute to the development of electromagnetic theory was the Scottish James Clerk Maxwell. He reunited all the precedent discoveries into four equations named after him the “Maxwell’s equations”.
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