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How is light produced?

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Quick Answer

Light is produced through a phenomenon known as electromagnetic radiation, which is composed of both a magnetic and an electrical component. Light, or visible light, is merely one small part of the overall electromagnetic spectrum. The entire spectrum includes gamma rays, X-rays, radio waves, microwaves and infrared light.

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How is light produced?
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Full Answer

Light is produced through either natural or artificial means, such as with the sun or a light bulb, respectively. Visible light, in its simplest terms, is a release of energy in the form of a packet of electromagnetic radiation, which is perceived by the human eye as light. This packet of energy, or photon, is released when excited electrons return to stable orbits, emitting energy as they make the transition. This is part of the quantum mechanics theory of light, which deals with light interactions at atomic levels.

Light is a particle (photon) that behaves like a wave. This is known as the duality of light and is one of the more enigmatic properties of light. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, neither the electromagnetic wave theory nor the quantum theory correctly explain the behavior of light at all levels; both theories are needed to describe the phenomena accurately. It has also been shown that other particles, such as electrons, also exhibit the same wave-like properties. Most recently, the Special Theory of Relativity has been employed to produce the more complete and widely accepted theory of quantum electrodynamics.

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Related Questions

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    What are characteristics of light waves?

    A:

    Light waves, a form of electromagnetic radiation, are energy-carrying waves able to self-propagate through the vacuum of space at 3x10^8 meters per second. While "light" sometimes colloquially refers to the entire electromagnetic spectrum, visible light is actually a very small part of it.

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  • Q:

    What has wavelengths that are shorter than visible light?

    A:

    Ultraviolet radiation, X-rays and gamma rays all have wavelengths that are shorter than visible light. The ultraviolet spectrum ranges from 400 to 10 billionths of a meter, X-rays from about 10 billionths to 10 trillionths of a meter, and gamma rays less than 10 trillionths of a meter.

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    How do light waves travel?

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    What is the frequency of ultraviolet light?

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