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I was wondering whether light waves are really wavy like in nature or is it just our depiction. I mean is light waves just a graphical representation on paper or whether we would see light waves just like we see water waves, of course provided that we could see such small features.
- satya sookhun (age 27)
The squiggly lines we sometimes use to represent waviness do not look
like some part of a light wave. They do look like graphs of how the
electric field varies from place to place in certain light waves.
Textbook drawings of wavy electric-field functions also greatly
exaggerate the distance scale. Green light, which is right in the
middle of the visible spectrum, has a wavelength of about 550
nanometers, or 0.00000055 meters, which is hard to draw in a book. If
the book drew a pattern with wiggles with this size, it would probably
look green (from some angles) -- holograms and shiny diffraction
patterns do just this. Radio waves can be many meters long.
(republished on 07/28/06)
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