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Light is electromagnetic radiation, particularly radiation of a wavelength that is visible to the human eye (about 400–700 nm, or perhaps 380–750 nm.) In physics, the term light sometimes refers to electromagnetic radiation of any wavelength, whether visible or not. Three primary properties of light are: Intensity Frequency or wavelength Polarization Light, which exists in tiny "packets" called photons, exhibits properties of both waves and particles. This property is referred to as the wave–particle duality. The study of light, known as optics, is an important research area in modern physics.
How Light works
We see things every day, from the moment we get up in the morning until we go to sleep at night. We look at everything around us using light. We appreciate kids' crayon drawings, fine oil paintings, swirling computer graphics, gorgeous sunsets, a blue sky, shooting stars and rainbows. We rely on mirrors to make ourselves presentable and sparkling gemstones to show affection. We are, in fact, seeing light -- light that somehow left objects far or near and reached our eyes. Light is all our eyes can really see.
When Light Hits an Object
When a light wave hits an object, what happens to it depends on the energy of the light wave, the natural frequency at which electrons vibrate in the material and the strength with which the atoms in the material hold on to their electrons. Based on these three factors, four different things can happen when light hits an object: The waves can be reflected or scattered off the object. The waves can be absorbed by the object. The waves can be refracted through the object. The waves can pass through the object with no effect. And more than one of these possibilities can happen at once. Transmission - If the frequency or energy of the incoming light wave is much higher or much lower than the frequency needed to make the electrons in the material vibrate, then the electrons will not capture the energy of the light, and the wave will pass through the material unchanged. As a result, the material will be transparent to that frequency of light. Most materials are transparent to some frequencies, but not to others. For example, high frequency light, such as gamma rays and X-rays, will pass through ordinary glass, but lower frequency ultraviolet and infrared light will not.
Refraction occurs when the energy of an incoming light wave matches the natural vibration frequency of the electrons in a material. The light wave penetrates deeply into the material, and causes small vibrations in the electrons. The electrons pass these vibrations on to the atoms in the material, and they send out light waves of the same frequency as the incoming wave. But this all takes time. The part of the wave inside the material slows down, while the part of the wave outside the object maintains its original
frequency. This has the effect of bending the portion of the wave inside the object toward what is called the normal line, an imaginary straight line that runs perpendicular to the surface of the object. The deviation from the normal line of the light inside the object will be less than the deviation of the light before it entered the object. The amount of bending, or angle of refraction, of the light wave depends on how much the material slows down the light. Diamonds would not be so glittery if they did not slow down incoming light much more than, say, water does. Diamonds have a higher index of refraction than water, which is to say that they slow down light to a greater degree. One interesting note about refraction is that light of different frequencies, or energies, will bend at slightly different angles. Let's compare violet light and red light when they enter a glass prism. Because violet light has more energy, it takes longer to interact with the glass. As such, it is slowed down to a greater extent than a wave of red light, and will be bent to a greater degree. This accounts for the order of the colors that we see in a rainbow. It is also what gives a diamond the rainbow fringes that make it so pleasing to the eye.
The atoms in some materials hold on to their electrons loosely. In other words, the materials contain many free electrons that can jump readily from one atom to another within the material. When the electrons in this type of material absorb energy from an incoming light wave, they do not pass that energy on to other atoms. The energized electrons merely vibrate and then send the energy back out of the object as a light wave with the same frequency as the incoming wave. The overall effect is that the light wave does not penetrate deeply into the material. In most metals, electrons are held loosely, and are free to move around, so these metals reflect visible light and appear to be shiny. The electrons in glass have some freedom, though not as much as in metals. To a lesser degree, glass reflects light and appears to be shiny, as well. A reflected wave always comes off the surface of a material at an angle equal to the angle at which the incoming wave hit the surface. In physics, this is called the Law of Reflectance. You have probably heard the Law of Reflectance stated as "the angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection." You can see for yourself that reflected light has the same frequency as the incoming wave. Just look at yourself in a mirror. The colors you see in the mirror's image are the same as those you see when you look down at yourself. The colors of your shirt and hair are the same as reflected in the mirror as they are on you. If this were not true, we would have to rely entirely on other people to tell us what we look like! Scattering Scattering is merely reflection off a rough surface. Incoming light waves get reflected at all sorts of angles, because the surface is uneven. The surface of paper is a good example. You can see just how rough it is if you look at it under a microscope. When light hits paper, the waves are reflected in all directions. This is what makes paper so incredibly useful -- you can read the words on a printed page regardless of the angle at which your eyes view the surface. Another interesting rough surface is Earth's atmosphere. You probably don't think of the atmosphere as a surface, but it nonetheless is "rough" to incoming white light. The
atmosphere contains molecules of many different sizes, including nitrogen, oxygen, water vapor and various pollutants. This assortment scatters the higher energy light waves, the ones we see as blue light. This is why the sky looks blue.
In absorption, the frequency of the incoming light wave is at or near the vibration frequency of the electrons in the material. The electrons take in the energy of the light wave and start to vibrate. What happens next depends upon how tightly the atoms hold on to their electrons. Absorption occurs when the electrons are held tightly, and they pass the vibrations along to the nuclei of the atoms. This makes the atoms speed up, collide with other atoms in the material, and then give up as heat the energy they acquired from the vibrations. The absorption of light makes an object dark or opaque to the frequency of the incoming wave. Wood is opaque to visible light. Some materials are opaque to some frequencies of light, but transparent to others. Glass is opaque to ultraviolet light, but transparent to visible light.
Speed of Light
The speed of light in a vacuum is presently defined to be exactly 299,792,458 m/s (about 186,282.397 miles per second). This definition of the speed of light means that the meter is now defined in terms of the speed of light. Light always travels at a constant speed, even between particles of a substance through which it is shining. Photons excite the adjoining particles that in turn transfer the energy to the neighbor. This may appear to slow the beam down through its trajectory in realtime. The time lost between entry and exit accounts to the displacement of energy through the substance between each particle that is excited. Different physicists have attempted to measure the speed of light throughout history. Galileo attempted to measure the speed of light in the seventeenth century. An early experiment to measure the speed of light was conducted by Ole Rømer, a Danish physicist, in 1676. Using a telescope, Ole observed the motions of Jupiter and one of its moons, Io. Noting discrepancies in the apparent period of Io's orbit, Rømer calculated that light takes about 22 minutes to traverse the diameter of Earth's orbit. Unfortunately, its size was not known at that time. If Ole had known the diameter of the Earth's orbit, he would have calculated a speed of 227,000,000 m/s. Another, more accurate, measurement of the speed of light was performed in Europe by Hippolyte Fizeau in 1849. Fizeau directed a beam of light at a mirror several kilometers away. A rotating cog wheel was placed in the path of the light beam as it traveled from the source, to the mirror and then returned to its origin. Fizeau found that at a certain rate of rotation, the beam would pass through one gap in the wheel on the way out and the next gap on the way back. Knowing the distance to the mirror, the number of teeth on the wheel, and the rate of rotation, Fizeau was able to calculate the speed of light as 313,000,000 m/s. Léon Foucault used an experiment which used rotating mirrors to obtain a value of 298,000,000 m/s in 1862. Albert A. Michelson conducted experiments on the speed of light from 1877 until his death in 1931. He refined Foucault's methods in 1926 using improved rotating mirrors to measure the time it took light to make a round trip from Mt.
Wilson to Mt. San Antonio in California. The precise measurements yielded a speed of 299,796,000 m/s.
There are many sources of light. The most common light sources are thermal: a body at a given temperature emits a characteristic spectrum of black-body radiation. Examples include sunlight (the radiation emitted by the chromosphere of the Sun at around 6,000 K
peaks in the visible region of the electromagnetic spectrum), incandescent light bulbs (which emit only around 10% of their energy as visible light and the remainder as infrared), and glowing solid particles in flames. The peak of the blackbody spectrum is in the infrared for relatively cool objects like human beings. As the temperature increases, the peak shifts to shorter wavelengths, producing first a red glow, then a white one, and finally a blue color as the peak moves out of the visible part of the spectrum and into the ultraviolet. These colors can be seen when metal is heated to "red hot" or "white hot". Blue thermal emission is not often seen. The commonly seen blue colour in a gas flame or a welder's torch is in fact due to molecular emission, notably by CH radicals (emitting a wavelength band around 425 nm). Atoms emit and absorb light at characteristic energies. This produces "emission lines" in the spectrum of each atom. Emission can be spontaneous, as in light-emitting diodes, gas discharge lamps (such as neon lamps and neon signs, mercury-vapor lamps, etc.), and flames (light from the hot gas itself—so, for example, sodium in a gas flame emits characteristic yellow light). Emission can also be stimulated, as in a laser or a microwave maser. Deceleration of a free charged particle, such as an electron, can produce visible radiation: cyclotron radiation, synchrotron radiation, and bremsstrahlung radiation are all examples of this. Particles moving through a medium faster than the speed of light in that medium can produce visible Cherenkov radiation. Certain chemicals produce visible radiation by chemo luminescence. In living things, this process is called bioluminescence. For example, fireflies produce light by this means, and boats moving through water can disturb plankton which produce a glowing wake. Certain substances produce light when they are illuminated by more energetic radiation, a process known as fluorescence. Some substances emit light slowly after excitation by more energetic radiation. This is known as phosphorescence. Phosphorescent materials can also be excited by bombarding them with subatomic particles. Cathodoluminescence is one example of this. This mechanism is used in cathode ray tube televisions. Certain other mechanisms can produce light: Scintillation Electroluminescence son luminescence triboluminescence Cherenkov radiation When the concept of light is intended to include very-high-energy photons (gamma rays), additional generation mechanisms include: Radioactive decay Particle–antiparticle annihilation
The term natural lighting is one that is thrown around quite loosely these days in the lighting industry. Very simply put, a lighting source that closely replicates natural sunlight can be considered a natural light source. Sunlight in its pure form has a kelvin temperature of around 5,000 degrees kelvin and a color rendering index of 100. As
sunlight comes into contact with the earth's atmosphere and is reflected and refracted by water and dust particles the color temperature actually changes throughout the day ranging anywhere from 5,000 to 6,000 kelvin depending on the time of day and the amount of clouds in the sky. Artificial lighting sources within this range can appropriately be considered a natural lighting lamp as long as the color rendering index is above 90. The color rendering index or CRI is a method for describing the effect of a light source on the color appearance of objects, compared to a reference source of the same color temperature. It serves as a quality distinction between light sources emitting light of the same color. The higher the CRI of lamps with color temperatures of 5,000-6,000 the better objects appear compared to outdoors. Unfortunately in todays competitive marketplace some companies have taken to making up their own definitions of what natural lighting is. A lamp with a color temperature of 6,500 kelvin and a CRI of 82-84 is simply not a natural lighting source. Even those touting their 5,000 kelvin bulbs with a CRI of only 82 as a form of natural light are doing the consumer a disservice in our opinion. Because CRI is determined in comparison to a source of the same color temperature a company calling its 4100 kelvin lamps a natural lighting source with a high CRI is unequivocally misleading, because the color of the light is actully several shades more yellow than sunlight and bears little resemblance to it. An incandescent bulb with its color temperature of 2800 kelvin has a CRI of 100 and we all know how unnatural those are and the same can be said for these 4100 kelvin halogen lamps. BlueMax Lighting™ was specifically designed to be the most natural lighting source on the market. The addition of 5 custom phosphors along with a high output 70 watt full spectrum bulb have combined to create the closest thing to sunlight indoors. Having a color temperature of 5,900 kelvin and a CRI of 96+ there are no other lamps on the marketplace to even compare against.
Natural Light Sources Daylight
Daylight consists of directly incident sunlight and light scattered in the atmosphere, skylight. The mixture of both components derermines the color of illumination which varies depending on time of day and the time of year from 4800 K - 18 000 K. By using conversion filters, the composition of light can be changed in such a way that daylight film which is exactly balanced at 5500 K renders natural colors. The decision which filter to take in each case is however not as difficult as is generally thought. The two most important criteria are altitude of location and the color of the sky. As altitude increases above sea-level, the proportion of short-wave blue radiation in illumination increases also. It has to be balanced by a reddish filter. In areas where the air is pure, that is, far away from urban centres and industrial plant, illumination follows this tendency. As the atmosphere becomes more clouded, the color temperature of radiation falls, illumination is seen as reddish by the film. Industrial and city haze has the greatest effect on light composition even with a clear-blue sky. With a great amount of haze, when the sky is from dull blue to yellowish-white, a light blue KB 1.5 correction filter should be used. A point of reference for determining illumination is if there are clouds present. If there are few clouds, clearly outlined against a blue sky, a reddish conversation filter is
abvisable. If clouds cover more than half the area of sky, a colorless UV haze filter is more to advantage. If the clouds are hardly visible in the haze, noticeably reducing sunlight and preventing the creation of sharp shadow, then it is clear that a light blue filter is required.
The sun radiates at a color temperature of 5800 K. Daylight film is balanced to this temperature. As observers, we always have the impression that sunlight is yellow or gold. In reality, it is more like the flame from an electric welder. The eye is fooled; influenced by the blue of the sky surrounding the sun, the eye assigns the sun a warmer tone than it really has, since it does not have the ability to measure exactly. On the other hand, the eye is superb at comparison, and can adapt to every color temperature which film cannot do. On its way through the atmosphere, the radiation of the sun is altered in many ways. Ultraviolet radiation below 180 nm cannot penetrate the atmosphere at all. In the infrared range, radiation is weakened by water vapor and absorbed to a greater or less extent depending on wave-length. But the most important change sunlight undergoes is caused by the molecules of the air, see Skylight. A direct shot of the sun is possible using very high denity gray filters which only transmit a ten thousandth of incident light.
Sunlight undergoes changes on its way through the atmosphere, changes of intensity as well as changes in composition. Light is despersed even by the gas molecules of the air. Air molecues are a considerable obstacle to blue light, while red oscillations, larger in dimension, are hardly affected by the oxygen and nitrogen in the air. Thus, with clear skies, red light reaches the ground with relative ease, while short-wave blue, violet and ultraviolet radiation is "scattered" over the whole sky. In this way, we get our radiant blue skies in cloudless weather, having a temperature of 8000 K to 20,000 K. If one relates dispersion of red light to dispersion of blue light, one may conclude that blue light is dispersed 20 times more than red light. The explanation for the sharpness of long-distance shots with red filters in black-and-white photography is to be found in the fact that red light penetrates the atmosphere almost unimpeded, see Rayleigh distribution.
This light is reflected sunlight striking the moon's surface. It has a color temperature of approximately 4000 K and therefore has a warmer color tone than sunlight. However, at full moon, illumination is so weak that the exposure time is 100,000 times as long as for a sunny summer landscape. With the lens aperture fully open ( 1:2 ) and with a 200 ASA film, the scene requires an exposure time of between 5 and 10 minutes. For color shots, there is the extra difficulty of achieving the correct color rendition. Color illumination and the sensitivity of the eye do not agree at all for night or dusk vision. Daylight film "sees" red, the eye sees blue. If one desires to make shots in such light conditions, it is best to use artificial light film. It is not necessarily possible to use a blue conversion filter for such shots as light loss must be avoided.
Open candelight and kerosene lamps have a color temperature of about 2000 K. Thus their light is very red. There is a color temperature difference of 34 decamireds from daylight and of 22 decamireds from artificial light.
Daylight is by far the best light source. It’s free, sustainable and increases wellbeing and productivity. Some buildings are not well designed to catch sunlight, but by making the most of the light that is available, you are likely to achieve some energy savings and create a more comfortable and healthy work environment.
Daylight is a valuable resource available for free during the bulk of business hours. The cost involved in maximizing daylight will depend on the measures you decide to take: rearranging furniture or space partitions can be free. Light shelves and blinds are relatively inexpensive. Retrofitting windows and skylights require an initial investment.
Daylight is a free source of light energy. Maximizing your ability to use it will help you keep lights off during the day, saving you money by the minute. Environmental considerations Using daylight minimizes environmental impacts, as does not require electricity generation, does not produce greenhouse gases emissions and it generally involves little to no product resource extraction, manufacturing, or shipping.
What you need to know
To take full advantage of daylight may require costly renovations, but to use what is available to your best advantage can be quick and inexpensive. Costs may be offset by increased productivity and profitability. Disperse the light. A single south-facing window can illuminate 20–100 times its area. Dispersing light reduces heat and glare while reducing the use of overhead lighting. Install blinds to aim light where needed. Blinds can also reduce unwanted heat and glare while making use of light. Paint walls and ceilings in light colours and use reflective sheens on ceilings. Bring the daylight in high. When daylight is introduced high in the space, it can penetrate father into the interior. Also, light entering high in the space will likely bounce once or twice before hitting a task surface, providing a softer light to these critical areas. Install light shelves to reflect light deeper into the workspace, for natural overhead light. An exterior light shelf simultaneously acts as a shade to prevent direct sunlight from entering the space and as a reflector to redirect sunlight towards the interior ceiling plane. An interior light shelf acts primarily as a reflector, increasing daylight illumination levels deeper into the space and may shade some low-angle sunlight. Light shelf placement and depth will determine the amount of solar gain as well as glare through the window. Rearrange. Organise your floor plan to take advantage of existing light in your space. Develop a floor plan for furniture, space dividers and windows to maximize light exposure and minimize glare and excess heat. Make the most of southern exposure. South facing windows tend to be great sources for light year round and offer beneficial heat effects. Lower angle winter sunlight will bring warmth and light through south facing windows. The summer sun is higher. Light will enter, but much of the heat is easily deflected. See our Business Heating and Cooling Guide for more information on getting the most from southern exposure.
Taking it further
Make daylighting a priority in your next office move or renovation. Look for office space with southern exposure, which will maximize natural heat and light effects. If your office, shop, or restaurant building is not well designed to catch sunlight, consider options like moving or investing in renovations. These choices can certainly entail
expenses and challenges, but sunlight brings beneficial heat as well as light, creating a more energy efficient space that can save money in the long-term. Your business is likely to further benefit through greater productivity or profitable consumer behaviour. More light doesn’t have to mean too much heat. South and west facing windows provide light and heat in the winter when the sun is lower in the sky. In the summer, they provide light without the extra heat. If you do get too much heat through your windows, you can install an awning or blind on the outside to deflect the direct light, or use blinds to direct the light to where you want it. Light shelves are another option. When properly placed, they can reduce heat and glare close to the window while reflecting light into darker areas. Also keep in mind that most electric lighting produces heat that is not as easily deflected as sunlight. Heat effects from lighting can increase air conditioning costs by as much as 20%. Daylight doesn’t have to be bright sunlight to make a difference. In fact, direct sunlight can be too hot or cause glare. A few hours of winter light in the north or in a rainy coastal region is worth catching and people living in these areas benefit from maximizing their exposure to daylight. Make the most of the light available to you. Glare can be resolved by simply moving furniture and equipment. Most modern computers have glare reduction screens. As well, using blinds to direct sunlight upwards is a great way to keep down the glare and still let light in. Light shelves can be used in a similar way for even greater effect. Observe the hourly and seasonal shifts of light through your windows to determine the most effective ways to maximize light and minimize glare.
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