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The Optics of LifeA Biologist's Guide to Light in Nature$
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Sönke Johnsen

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691139906

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691139906.001.0001

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What Is Light, Really?

What Is Light, Really?

(p.271) Chapter Ten What Is Light, Really?
The Optics of Life

Sönke Johnsen

Princeton University Press

This concluding chapter explains that the modern theory of light falls within the field of quantum mechanics. At first glance, quantum mechanics does not seem that strange—its name is based on the fact that light comes in units and that electrons have discrete energy states. It also includes the uncertainty principle, which states that one cannot know certain pairs of physical properties with perfect precision. Moreover, quantum mechanics involves the wave-particle duality of photons. The chapter then explores two of the most unusual aspects of quantum mechanics: two-slit interference and quantum entanglement. Both violate the most fundamental notions about how the world works.

Keywords:   light, quantum mechanics, units, electrons, uncertainty principle, wave-particle duality, photons, two-slit interference, quantum entanglement

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