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How Light Interacts with Matter

The everyday objects around us are white, colored or black, opaque or transparent, depending on how the electrons in their atoms or molecules respond to the driving force of electromagnetic radiation...

By Victor F. Weisskopf

How Light is Analyzed

By separating light into its constituents the spectroscopist learns what kinds of matter are in the source. With modern techniques such as Fourier spectroscopy highly informative spectra can be obtained...

By Pierre Connes

How Images are Formed

New procedures based on wave theory and executed by computers have supplemented the traditional techniques of ray optics. The result is a major advance in the quality of lenses and the images they form...

By F. Dow Smith

How Images are Detected

The most versatile detector of light images is the visual system of vertebrates. Nonetheless, photographic emulsions and electronic image detectors improve on biological systems in significant ways...

By R. Clark Jones

Applications of Laser Light

They range from the straightforward (such as surveying and welding) to the sophisticated (such as optical communication and holography), and it may be that more interesting applications are still to come...

By Donald R. Herriott

The Chemical Effects of Light

Visible light triggers few chemical reactions (except in living cells), but the photons of ultraviolet radiation readily break chemical bonds and produce short-lived molecular fragments with unusual properties...

By Gerald Oster

How Light Interacts with Living Matter

Light activates three key processes of life: photosynthesis, vision and photoperiodism (the response of plants and animals to the cycle of night and day). Such activation is mediated by specific pigments...

By Sterling B. Hendricks

The Control of the Luminous Environment

Architecture, which for millenniums was dependent on natural sources of light, has in the past century increasingly turned to artificial sources. In the long run it must perfect the integrated use of both...

By James Marston Fitch

The Processes of Vision

Light enables us to see, but optical images on the retina are only the starting point of the complex activities of visual perception and visual memory

By Ulric Neisser


  • 50 and 100 Years Ago: September 1968

  • Science and the Citizen: September 1968

  • Letters

    Letters to the Editors, September 1968

  • Recommended


  • Mathematical Recreation

    Mathematical Games

  • Amateur Scientist

    The Amateur Scientist

  • Departments

    The Authors

  • Bibliography

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