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The Magic of Light

Jeffrey Syken

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

Genesis 1:3

Light; without it life itself would not be possible. The ancients understood the life giving and healing properties of the sun’s rays and depicted the sun in their art as a disc with illuminating rays. As such, many ancient religions were based on sun worship. What was it about the sun’s light that could make the crops grow in the fields, provide warmth and heal wounds wondered Hippocrates and other wise men of the ancient world.

In 1666, Sir Isaac Newton solved part of the puzzle by diffusing a beam of sunshine through a prism. The full color spectrum of white light was now easily observed and the phenomenon of the rainbow better understood. In 1800, infra-red light was discovered and a year later (in 1801), German physicist Ritter discovered ultra-violet light at the other end of the light spectrum. The latter held special interest to medicine since it was observed that sunlight had the power to heal. If the power of UV light could be harnessed, it could be applied to skin diseases and cure Rickets – a vitamin D deficiency (sunlight provides the body with Vitamin D).

The human eye receives images via light and the brain translates these images, it is a marvel of creation. Like sound, light travels in waves as vibrations. Beyond our ability to see them (since they vibrate at a rate eight-thousand times as fast as visible light), X-rays allow us to see inside the human body, examine packages and reveal flaws in manufactured parts. It’s all part of the magic of light.

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

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