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4:16 am and the clock goes tick-tick-tick Musings

Light. What exactly is light?

You can see light (in the visible spectrum), you can’t see light (in the spectrum you can’t see),  it has colours that entertain us, in Rainbows, for instance. It’s not really light though, you don’t appear to be able to hold it in your hands, or weigh it.  (or it’s very light, which is a bit of a bad pun there)

We know how fast it goes to get from A to B.

But what is light?, and why can’t you capture a light beam?

Capture it inside a sphere,  seal it in, and release it later, like uncorking a bottle?

Why a Sphere? Well a sphere with a perfect mirror finish on the inside, so that the light beam can bounce around, for ever. Why not?

Light is part of the electromagnetic spectrum, which ranges from radio waves to gamma rays, and you can’t capture them in a bottle that I know of, you can capture them on recordable media though, but you can’t capture a sound bite to be released later. Imagine shouting in a bottle and throwing it in the sea and it washes up years later and gives someone a fright when they open it. I digress, it’s late, I’m tired.

Electromagnetic radiation waves, as their names suggest are fluctuations of electric and magnetic fields, which can transport energy from one location to another. Visible light is not inherently different from the other parts of the electromagnetic spectrum with the exception that the human eye can detect visible waves.

But you can’t capture a light wave.

Electromagnetic radiation can also be described in terms of a stream of photons which are massless particles each travelling with wavelike properties at the speed of light.

Can you capture a massless photon? contain it somehow? (in Star Trek you make torpedoes out of them).

Then when I was preparing this I found a reddit thread (of course) and someone had asked the question, but it is reddit and possibly less reliable then wikipedia.

However, 100% reflection is impossible;  Impossible or just very very difficult?

It is important, my whole thing involves a perfectly mirrored sphere.

Theoretically impossible. Because of quantum tunneling, there is always some non-zero probability, no matter how small, that some of the light will leak through a highly reflective surface. Even if you make a human-sized hollow sphere with 99.99% reflective walls, the light will still get absorbed in a fraction of a second after reflecting thousands of times because light travels so quickly.

my eyes glazed over

Light can be permanently captured. It’s simply a matter of bending space time to a sufficient degree so that light cannot escape an enclosed region. You might have difficulty constructing such a device, but thankfully nature has already created numerous such systems.

They are commonly referred to as black holes.

Not quite what I had in mind, not easily transportable, I’d want to let the light out one day, in a dark room, perhaps, so it could carry on its journey.

I rolled over.



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