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What is light? An honest attempt to look at the details and draw our own conclusions
Corneliu I. Costescu

In the standard view, the quantitative description of diffraction patterns in electromagnetic optics (w) and quantum mechanics (qm) relies on the capability of the wave/ wave function to diffract in the vicinity of the diffracting edges (and to interfere in their action on the screen/ detector). In this view the origin of the diffracted light (waves of hundreds of times larger than the inter-atomic distances) is mainly outside of the diffracting edge. For instance, in the diffraction of a plane wave of amplitude A, incident perpendicularly on a (conducting) half-plane, the part of the wave that passes above the edge of the half-plane starts spreading behind the half-plane (in its geometrical shadow). As the wave-travel distance behind the diffracting half-plane increases, this spreading (diffraction) increases such that at infinity we have everywhere (both in the illuminated and in the geometrical shadow areas) a plane wave of amplitude A/2. This means that half of the part of the incident plane wave which has passed (un-deviated) above the diffracting half-plane, has spread in the geometrical shadow of the diffracting half-plane.

If the three claims presented below are true, as our extended analysis of old experiments suggests, then a complementary view on the light structure is necessary. The new view must remove the interpretation troubles, and must provide a mechanism with more detailed observables, fit for answering many how-can-it-be-like-that questions.

In the context of the success, and of the attraction to the mathematical elegance and mystery of the current views on light, any new and more detailed/physical structure of a light beam will be perceived at the beginning, no matter how ingenious/useful the new structure would be, as a "mechanistic/poor"; approach to be rejected. This perception and rejection would be similar with the perception generated by the ideas of the kinetic theory of heat/ statistical mechanics (L. Boltzmann), in the accomplished German school of physics/chemistry/philosophy, between 1870 and 1900. In the latter case considerable philosophical, scientific and practical arguments were invoked as a support for the rejection of Boltzmann's approach. In our case, the situation is much more complex because of the complexity of the current physics community and physics science ... However, there is a simple key ...

I) Simple experiments suggest that the diffracted light is generated inside the terminal shapes (surface layer) of the edges hit by light. The diffracted light is born inside of the diffracting edge. This view was initiated by Thomas Young in 1802 and many scientists in our days (for instance J.W. Goodman, Introduction to Fourier Optics, pg 46 - McGraw-Hill 1968) believe that this is the case. Due to the prevalence of the current view with waves, no specific complete analysis and theory were developed yet for this view. However, this view is implemented in the Geometrical Theory of Diffraction (GTD) as a mixture between the concept of rays leaving from the diffracting edges and propagating in straight paths, and the concept of waves. For instance, in GTD the straight-path rays behave like waves (interfere) when they encounter other similar rays. If it is true that the origin of the diffracted light is inside the diffracting edge this would categorically prohibit light being waves. Indeed, if the light would be waves of the order of 500 nm wavelength then the generation of diffracted waves takes place outside of the diffracting edges. A crucial experiment for establishing beyond any doubt if the origin of the diffracting light is inside or outside of the diffracting edges, is described on this website, see the text "A crucial and Overdue Measurement." However, even without carrying out this crucial and overdue experiment, a complete analysis of light diffraction can be done by assuming that (I) is true. Such a complete analysis has not been done before and is described in broad lines in this text, based on (II) and (III) below, and will be presented in detail in the text "The Origin of Light Diffraction - a detailed analysis" on this website. Such a complete analysis leads to a simple and practical new structure of light (called a bi-structure or a "bi-kefalos" structure) and a simple understanding of the strange aspects that result from the current view on light (understanding the Michelson-Morley experiment without the assumption of constant light speed in different reference systems, for instance). By this simple understanding the complete analysis and the new structure of light are convincing by themselves. However, this road takes a lot of time to follow - a time which usually a scientist does not have. Therefore, the experiment must also be done if we want to convince.

II) If (I) is true, as argued above, the light is not (or does not behave like) waves and hence, the diffraction pattern is not caused by the interference of waves in free-space or in matter. In this case the diffraction pattern must be caused by a certain feature of the light-screen interaction on the surface of matter. This interaction occurs on any material surface, including transparent materials. Hence, the interaction of light with the surface of the screen plays an essential role in the light propagation. This suggests that when falling upon the surface of matter, the light beam could suffer a drastic interaction and hence, an essential change in its structure. III) If (I) and (II) are true, we interpret them as follows. They suggest that even in a perfect transparent material the light beam suffers an essential change in the surface layer, a change from a non-wave structure specific to free-space to a different structure specific to condensed matter. In other words, the light structure in free space transforms itself into the light structure specific to condensed matter because of the interaction of the free space structure with the surface of condensed matter. And the light structure in condensed matter propagating in condensed matter becomes again the light structure in free space as soon as a free surface of condensed matter is encountered.


In this short text, we propose such a double structure. Running the Agora Laboratory and Class for three years, as we propose in this website, will show if this bi-structure resists the criticism and if it is fully viable. This structure allows a full application to the quantitative description of edge, corner, slit and double slit diffraction. It also allows application/ extension to all other related phenomena, such as reflection, refraction, photoeffect, etc. There are important consequences for other basic phenomena such as the atomic structure, speed of light, thermal radiation, etc.

The basic line of though toward of the new structure of light is as follows. If the diffracted light is generated inside the diffracting edge, as explained above, the light can not be or can not behave like waves. (Because if it did then the diffracted light would be generated around the diffracting edges.) This means that new concepts must be constructed for light. It is essential that the new concepts must be reconcilable with a revised understanding of the existing experimental information on the electron oscillations, on the thermal radiation, and on the atomic structure. There are two steps in our attempt for a new structure of light. 1) On the line of a development for the old and new atomism, we propose that besides the atomic structure there also exists a finely dispersed matter (DM) - much finer than the atomic structure. We convinced ourselves that this finely dispersed matter is a reasonable concept that helps the development of a more detailed understanding of the current atomism and of the basic interactions at the atomic level. 2) The Agora Laboratory and Class will assess for years the viability of this concept as follows. Also, the proof of the existence and viability of the concept of finely dispersed matter (DM) will be done over the years by verifying its implications at the experimental level, in the same way in which the atomic structure was analyzed and verified experimentally after Maxwell and Boltzmann.

The proposed structure for the light beam is different in free space and in condensed matter. (i) In free space the light beam is a collection of sequences of equidistant bursts of finely dispersed matter (finely DM) that travel freely, in straight lines. The 3D shape of the bursts, the distance between bursts and the length of a sequence of bursts vary, depending of their source characteristics. The distribution and the number of the sequences in the plane perpendicular to their movement (transverse section) also depend on the light source. Hence, the intensity of a light beam in free space is proportional to the number of bursts the cross the unit surface in a unit of time. (ii) The periodical arrival of the bursts upon the surface of a body thicker than a few nanometers, they transform themselves in forced asymmetric collective longitudinal electron oscillations (CLEO) in the surface layer. The action of the bursts on the electrons can take place by momentum transfer. Since a CLEO involves the oscillation of a population of electrons, the transversal area of a CLEO is larger than the dimension of an atom. If the material is transparent, these asymmetric and longitudinal CLEOs propagate through the body as a light beam. The propagation is sustained by the action of the oscillating electrons on the neighboring electron population through the action of locally generated bursts. (iii) The thermal radiation is composed of the same type finely dispersed matter as light in free space, and is in equilibrium with the thermal motion of the atoms. A CLEO that propagates through a transparent body interacts with the finely DM and throws bursts in the two directions of electron oscillation, but more intense in the forward of the propagation of CLEO. When the CLEO propagation encounters a free surface, then the bursts leave the surface and become light in the free space. Hence, the light beam in condensed matter is primarily a propagating CLEO whose propagation is mediated by locally generated bursts. In a metal, where there are many quasi-free electrons and hence, the electron oscillations propagation is strongly damped. In this frame, the transparency of a piece of glass is not due to free space light penetrating through the glass. Indeed, the free space light bursts disappear at the surface of the glass by transforming themselves into CLEOs. In turn the CLEOs propagate on their own other side of the glass and hence, are the carrier of the light beam through condensed matter. Hence, the transparency is essentially due to the propagation of CLEOs.

The above structure of the light beam was found to alternatively and clearly describe, both physically and mathematically, the light diffraction patterns. Upon hitting diffracting material edges, the bursts of the initial light beam generate CLEOs in those edges and hence, they become a source of extra beams toward the screen. At a point on the screen, there is a time delay between the arrival of bursts from the initial beam and from the beam generated in a diffracting edge. This time delay is proportional to path differences and hence, at a point on the screen there will be an interference between the CLEO from the initial (source) beam and the CLEO from the diffracted beam. Therefore, this view is fully adequate for describing clearly, physically and mathematically, a high intensity light diffraction experiment. The experiment of the rare photon diffraction receives a very different face here since the photon appears to be a sequence of bursts coming to the detector. The detection of the photon very likely involves a superposition of the effects of such burst sequences see the paragraph below on the photon detection and the photoelectric effect.

The process of conversion of the periodical arrival of bursts from free space at a body surface depends on the dimensions of the surface layer an on its differences in material properties from those of bulk matter. In this context the refraction phenomena occur as complex aspects of the conversion from light bursts to CLEO in the surface layer, and then to CLEO in the bulk. Similarly, the reflection is the expression of the conversion from light bursts to CLEO in the surface layer, and then back to bursts in the free space. The details of this conversion can be unraveled only by a detailed adjustment of parameters in a 2D/3D calculation of forced oscillations in the surface layer and bulk.

The structure of light proposed above also allows application/ extension to related phenomena, and has important consequences for other basic phenomena. However, such a structure needs to be debated and developed, through the Agora Laboratory and Class, for a long time before accepting or discarding it. If the above structure, or any other more detailed/ physical structure of a light beam is true, then we can understand the basic reasons and limitations for the fit of the current views on light to many practical problems. Indeed, a wave of 500 nm fits and is very useful for the calculation of a light diffraction pattern because of its capability to diffract by itself around the edges encountered in its path. But it does so even without entering the diffracting edges while the real light beam needs to enter the diffracting edges in order to diffract (by refraction and reflection). Hence, a wave of light is a very useful mathematical tool for a user because it can do (diffract) almost what the real light does. Indeed, a wave of 500 nm goes up to the edges and diffract even without entering the edges, and most importantly allows the formal the calculation of the diffraction pattern. For the calculation of the diffraction patterns and other observables, the wave approach will always remain a very useful tool. However, sooner or later a more detailed/ physical view (as the one suggested above) on the structure of light, will be accepted, for the purpose of a more detailed/ physical understanding of the microcosm. The Agora Laboratory and Class is the ideal research and education environment necessary toward obtaining such a new and more detailed/ physical view on the structure of a light beam.


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