Can Light Be Considered Matter?


Quick Answer

Although light appears to exhibit some of the properties of matter under certain conditions, it is comprised of electromagnetic energy traveling from a source of emission in the form of quantized energy packets called photons. These energy packets are traveling energy fields that have no resting mass, no charge and travel through space at a constant, nondecaying speed of approximately 186,282 miles per second. The speed of light has been proven to remain consistent in a vacuum and has served as a universal constant for all forms of electromagnetic radiation.

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Full Answer

Because light can exert physical pressure on objects in its path, early theories about its nature suggested that light was a form of matter. The effect of light pressure on physical objects is now understood to be the result of photons transferring some of their energy of momentum to a physical object when striking it. Using light pressure, a United States penny could be lifted with the force provided by laser pointers, but it would require about 30 billion 1-mW laser pointers to do so. At much larger magnitudes, light pressure in space is capable of causing asteroids to spin faster.

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