“Electromagnetic Nature of Light — A brief history of light” This lecture was delivered on 16th March, yesterday, in a lecture session of 1 and 1/2 hours. The second part of this lecture was delivered to Physics honors as well as Physics elective students.
As I promised in the last lecture, lecture-X we have our one of the interesting historical and technical perspective about light that is also one of my favorite, as I discovered yesterday, or shortly before that, the night before, when I was composing the lecture from scratch. We will name this lecture with its proper number, only after its clear to us what chronological number it must be associated with it. Its like an advanced wave, it reached us before in time, before it was intended to be taken up for its web-version.
Let us begin this lecture which has roughly two parts, 1. the history of light and its understanding through the centuries and 2. the electromagnetic nature of light. The second part is intended as the course material for honors as well as elective students but you will be in amusement if you also cover the first part.
A brief history of light.
Various optical devices and optical phenomena have been known since close to 4000 years. The optical devices of ancient time includes mirrors, burning glasses, lenses and other magnifying devices.
Accordingly various properties and laws of light were understood and developed since these times. Eg light was understood to propagate rectilinearly, light was understood to reflect and refract. There were various laws that were known since these times which catered to the need for explanation of these phenomena. eg Reflection was understood to be a phenomena explained by the principle of shortest path — follow link to know this and other related ideas and their history: Hero of Alexandria. Laws of refraction were understood either partially or completely as the centuries or even millennia passed.
Apart from rectilinear propagation of light it was understood that light moves at infinitely large speed. Advanced optical devices such as telescopes were developed based on partial and faulty understanding of light which was gradually refined to accommodate better credits of advancement.