electromagnetic radiation at or near visible wavelengths
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Light is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength that is visible to the eye.

And God said: "Let there be light," and there was light. ~ Genesis

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The light
Begin to bleed,
Begin to breathe,
Begin to speak.
D'you know what?
I love you better now. ~ Kate Bush
I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will by no means walk in darkness, but will possess the light of life.
~ Jesus
Gospel of John 8:12, NWT
Have you understood the vast expanse of the earth? Tell me, if you know all of this. In which direction does the light reside? And where is the place of darkness?
~ Book of Job 38: 18-19, NWT
Genius is not so much a light as it is a constant awareness of the surrounding gloom. ~ Stanisław Lem
Light upon light, God guideth unto His light whome he will. And God speaketh to mankind in allegories, for God is knower of all things. ~ Quran
He is the King of those who rule as kings and Lord of those who rule as lords, the one alone having immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal might.
Paul of Tarsus
  • It is manifest that everything in the world, whether it be substance or accident, produces rays in its own manner like a star... Everything that has actual existence in the world of the elements emits rays in every direction, which fill the whole world.
    • Al-Kindi, De Causis diuersitatum aspectus et dandis demonstrationibus geometricus super eas, also known as De Aspectibus (ca. 860) as quoted by David C. Lindberg, Theories of Vision from Al-kindi to Kepler (1976)
  • The light will not shame you, if it shows you your own ugliness, and that ugliness so offends you that you perceive the beauty of the light.
    • Augustine, Ten Homilies on the First Epistle of John (414), First Homily, as translated by John Burnaby (1955), p. 262
  • Corruption springs from light: 'tis one same power
    Creates, preserves, destroys; matter whereon
    It works, on e'er self-transmutative form,
    Common to now the living, now the dead.
  • The light in the world comes principally from two sources,—the sun, and the student's lamp.
  • For I light my candle from their torches.
    • Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), Part III. Sect, II. Memb. 5. Subsec. 1.
  • The black moment is the moment when the real message of transformation is going to come. At the darkest moment comes the light.
  • I never saw an ugly thing in my life: for let the form of an object be what it may-light, shade, and perspective will always make it beautiful.
    • John Constable Art Is the Highest Form of Hope & Other Quotes by Artists by Phaidon (2016)
  • Phenomena were accounted for by taking into consideration the frictional resistances that would interfere with rapid vibrations of the electrons. When these frictional resistances were weak, oscillatory disturbances, such as rays of light, could be propogated through the diaelectric, which was then termed transparent (glass). When these frictional forces were considerable, the light ray was unable to set the electrons into vibration; its energy was consumed in the attempt, and as a result it could not proceed; the dielectric was then opaque (ebonite, sulphur).
  • Regardless of the prophetic value of Dirac’s description [on interference] his was probably the first discussion... including a coherent beam of light. In other words, Dirac wrote the first chapter in laser optics.
  • May you grow up to be righteous
    May you grow up to be true
    May you always know the truth
    And see the lights surrounding you.
  • A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.
  • I believe the widespread use of short wavelength blue light may someday be viewed the same as how people now view smoking, asbestos, and radium. Just another terrible idea.
    My vision is that, for indoor settings, let people choose the lighting that suits them best, including incandescent light, and outdoors use dark sky friendly lighting so we may see the sky, and live our best lives.
  • Light itself is a great corrective. A thousand wrongs and abuses that are grown in darkness disappear, like owls and bats, before the light of day.
    • James A. Garfield, as quoted in General Garfield as a Statesman and Orator (1881) edited by the Republican Party National Committee, p. 59.
  • And God said: "Let there be light," and there was light.
  • Master, Master of Light,
    Whose eye dwells in the seeking fingers of the blind,
    You are still despised and mocked,
    A man too weak and infirm to be God,
    A God too much man to call forth adoration.
    • Khalil Gibran, in Jesus, The Son of Man (1928), "A Man From Lebanon: Nineteen Centuries Afterward".
  • The eye owes its existence to the light. Out of indifferent animal organs the light produces an organ to correspond to itself; and so the eye is formed by the light, for the light so that the inner light may meet the outer... If the eye were not sunlike, how could we perceive the light?
    • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Zur Farbenlehre (1810) in Goethes Werke, Hamburger Ausgabe (1982) Vol. 13, ed. Erich Trunz, Tr. Arthur Zajonc, in Catching the Light (1993) p. 184.
  • The obstacle was what Schiller and Koerner once called the "sensual element" in Goethe's philosophy, and which, years after the death of both Kant and Schiller, came out in Goethe in a most typical fashion when young Schopenhauer, a zealous and thorough-going Kantian, tried to explain that light would cease to exist along with the seeing eye. "What!" he said, according to Schopenhauer's own report, "looking at him with his Jove-like eyes,"—"You should rather say that you would not exist if the light could not see you?"
  • There can be no doubt that light consists of the motion of a certain substance. For if we examine its production, we find that here on earth it is principally fire and flame which engender it, both of which contain beyond doubt bodies which are in rapid movement, since they dissolve and destroy many other bodies more solid than they: while if we regard its effects, we see that when light is accumulated, say by concave mirrors, it has the property of combustion just as fire has, that is to say, it disunites the parts of bodies, which is assuredly a proof of motion, at least in the true philosophy, in which the causes of all natural effects are conceived as mechanical causes. Which in my judgment must be accomplished or all hope of ever understanding physics is renounced.
    • Christiaan Huygens, Traite de la Lumière (1690) p. 2, as quoted by Ernst Mach, "On the Principle of the Conservation of Energy" in Popular Scientific Lectures (1895) pp. 155-156, Tr. Thomas J. McCormack.
  • Nations will go to your light

And kings to your shining splendor.

  • I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will by no means walk in darkness, but will possess the light of life.
  • Every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest.
  • Our faith is a light by nature coming of our endless Day, that is our Father, God. In which light our Mother, Christ, and our good Lord, the Holy Ghost, leadeth us in this passing life. This light is measured discreetly, needfully standing to us in the night. The light is cause of our life; the night is cause of our pain and of all our woe: in which we earn meed and thanks of God. For we, with mercy and grace, steadfastly know and believe our light, going therein wisely and mightily.
  • We are actually born out of light, you might say. I believe light is the maker of all material. Material is spent light.
  • And this I know; whether the one True Light
    Kindle to Love, or Wrath consume me quite,
    One flash of it within the Tavern caught
    Better than in the temple lost outright.
  • The flame that burns Twice as bright burns half as long.
  • Genius is not so much a light as it is a constant awareness of the surrounding gloom.
    • Stanisław Lem, in His Master's Voice (1968) as translated by Michael Kandel (1983).
  • In fact, when the eye perceives bright light one of four reactions may take place. These are, in order of increasing brightness: dazzle, after image formation, flash blindness, and irreversible damage. Most individuals will have experienced dazzle as a result of oncoming car headlights and persistent after images from accidentally staring at the filament of an incandescent bulb. Both dazzle and after images will distort vision for some seconds to minutes. Flash blindness occurs when an extremely bright flash is discharged, usually at night, and again vision is temporarily lost. All three reactions would be useful in temporarily disabling a pilot and causing him to abort close approach to a target. If even higher irradiances reach the retina then irreversible damage may occur. In practice, a laser system that will dazzle at one mile may permanently blind at closer range.
  • Velocity of transverse undulations in our hypothetical medium, calculated from the electromagnetic experiments of 'MM'. Kohlrausch and Weber, agrees so exactly with the velocity of light calculated from the optical experiments of M. Fizeau, that we can scarcely avoid the conclusion that light consists in the transverse undulations of the same medium which is the cause of electric and magnetic phenomena.
  • The general equations are next applied to the case of a magnetic disturbance propagated through a non-conductive field, and it is shown that the only disturbances which can be so propagated are those which are transverse to the direction of propagation, and that the velocity of propagation is the velocity v, found from experiments such as those of Weber, which expresses the number of electrostatic units of electricity which are contained in one electromagnetic unit. This velocity is so nearly that of light, that it seems we have strong reason to conclude that light itself (including radiant heat, and other radiations if any) is an electromagnetic disturbance in the form of waves propagated through the electromagnetic field according to electromagnetic laws.
  • That light is not itself a substance may be proved from the phenomenon of interference. A beam of light from a single source is divided by certain optical methods into two parts, and these, after travelling by different paths, are made to reunite and fall upon a screen. If either half of the beam is stopped, the other falls on the screen and illuminates it, but if both are allowed to pass, the screen in certain places becomes dark, and thus shows that the two portions of light have destroyed each other. Now, we cannot suppose that two bodies when put together can annihilate each other; therefore light cannot be a substance. ... What we have proved is that one portion of light can be the exact opposite of another portion... Such quantities are the measures, not of substances, but always of processes taking place in a substance. We therefore conclude that light is... a process going on in a substance... so that when the two portions [of light] are combined no process goes on at all. ...the light is extinguished when the difference of the length of the paths is an odd multiple of... a half wave-length. ...we see on the screen a set of fringes consisting of dark lines at equal intervals, with bright bands of graduated intensity between them. ...if the two rays are polarized ...when the two planes of polarization are parallel the phenomena of interference appear as above ...As the plane turns ...light bands become less distinct right angles ...illumination of the screen becomes uniform, and no trace of interference can be discovered. ...The process may, however, be an electromagnetic one ...the electric displacement and the magnetic disturbance are perpendicular to each other, either ...supposed to be in the plane of polarization.
  • An age is called Dark not because the light fails to shine, but because people refuse to see it.
  • With thy long levell'd rule of streaming light.
  • He that has light within his own clear breast
    May sit i' th' centre and enjoy bright day;
    But he that hides a dark soul and foul thoughts
    Benighted walks under the mid-day sun.
  • Hail, holy light! offspring of heaven firstborn!
    Or of th' eternal co-eternal beam,
    May I express thee unblam'd? since God is light
    And never but in unapproached light
    Dwelt from eternity, dwelt then in thee,
    Bright effluence of bright essence increate!
  • And from her native east,
    To journey through the aery gloom began,
    Spher'd in a radiant cloud, for yet the sun
    Was not.
  • There swift return
    Diurnal, merely to officiate light
    Round this opacous earth, this punctual spot.
  • For... small things, there must be something else.
    There is. We call it the electric interaction (more generally, the electromagnetic interaction), and it arises from an endowment of matter known as the electric charge. Standing still, an electrically charged particle throws up an electric potential to which other charged particles can respond.
    Electric or magnetic, charge gives rise to both. Whether we say "electric potential" (because we perceive a charge to be at rest) or "magnetic potential" (because we perceive a charge to be in motion), the difference lies solely in our point of view. The source is one.
    From the world of mass we descend... into the world of charge, ready to see our most familiar surroundings in a new light. Let there be electric charge.
    • Michael Munowitz, Knowing: The Nature of Physical Law (2005)
  • DEFIN. II. ... Mathematicians uſually conſider the Rays of Light to be Lines reaching from the luminous Body to the Body illuminated, and the refraction of thoſe Rays to be the bending or breaking of thoſe lines in their paſſing out of one Medium into another. And thus may Rays and Refractions be conſidered, if Light be propagated in an inſtant. But by an Argument taken from the Æquations of the times of the Eclipſes of 𝔍upiter's Satellites, it ſeems that Light is propagated in time, ſpending in its paſſage from the Sun to us about ſeven Minutes of time: And therefore I have choſen to define Rays and Refractions in ſuch general terms as may agree to Light in both caſes.
    • Isaac Newton, "DEFINITIONS". Opticks:: Or, A Treatise of the Reflections, Refractions, Inflections and Colours of Light (4th ed.). 1730. pp. 2–3.  (1st edition 1704)
  • I am light; oh that I were night! But this is my loneliness, that I am girded by light.
    Oh that I were dark and nocturnal! How I would suck at the breasts of light!
    And even you I would bless, you little twinkling stars and glowworms up there! – And be blissful for your gift of light.
    But I live in my own light, I drink back into myself the flames that break out of me.
  • Light became their favorite subject on account of its mathematical obediance and freedom of movement. They were more interested in the play of its colors, and thus they named after it their great enterprise, the Enlightenment.
    • Novalis, Christendom or Europe (1799) referring to the French Enlightenment.
  • In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don't.
  • Before God, who preserves all things alive, and Christ Jesus, who as a witness made the fine public declaration before Pontius Pilate, I give you orders to observe the commandment in a spotless and irreprehensible way until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, which the happy and only Potentate will show in its own appointed times. He is the King of those who rule as kings and Lord of those who rule as lords, the one alone having immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal might. Amen.
  • Among all the studies of natural causes and reasons, light most delights the contemplators; among the great things of mathematics, the certainty of its demonstrations most illustriously elevates the minds of its investigators; perspective must therefore be preferred to all human discourses and disciplines, in the study in which radiant lines are expounded by means of demonstrations and in which the glory is found not only of mathematics, but also physics: it is adorned with the flowers of one and the other.
    • John Pecham, Perspectiva communis, translated by, and appearing in the notebooks (C.A.543r) of Leonardo da Vinci, as quoted by Martin Kemp, Leonardo Da Vinci: The Marvellous Works of Nature and Man (2006) p. 112.
  • [W]ith regard to light, that it consists of vibrations was almost proved by the phenomena of diffraction, while those of polarisation showed the excursions of the particles to be perpendicular to the line of propogation; but the phenomena of dispersion, etc., require additional hypotheses which may be very complicated. Thus, the further progress of molecular speculation appears quite uncertain. If hypotheses are to be tried haphazard, or simply because they will suit certain phenomena, it will occupy the mathematical physicists of the world say half a century on the average to bring each theory to the test, and since the number of possible theories may go up into the trillion, only one of which can be true, we have little prospect of making further solid additions to the subject in our time.
  • Once there was only dark. If you ask me, the light's winning.
  • I propose to discuss this afternoon certain effects of the energy which is continuously pouring out from the sun on all sides with the speed of light—the energy which we call sunlight when we enjoy the brilliance of a cloudless sky, which we call heat when we bask in its warmth, the stream of radiation which supports all life on our globe and is the source of all our energy. ...
    ... Beyond the violet are the still shorter waves, which affect a photographic plate or a fluorescent screen, and will pass through certain substances opaque to ordinary light. Here, for instance, is a filter, devised by Professor Wood, which stops visible rays, but allows the shorter invisible waves to pass and excite the fluorescence of a platinocyanide screen.
    Again, beyond the red end are still longer waves, which are present in very considerable amount, and can be rendered evident by their heating effect. We can easily filter out the visible rays and still leave these long waves in the beam by passing it through a thin sheet of vulcanite. A piece of phosphorus placed at the focus of these invisible rays is at once fired, or a thermometer quickly rises in temperature.
  • God is the light of the heavens and the earth. The similitude of His light is as a niche wherein is a lamp. The lamp is in a glass.The glass is as it were a shining star. (This lamp is) kindled from a blessed tree, an olive neither of the East nor of the West, whose oil would almost glow forth (of itself) though no fire touched it. Light upon light, God guideth unto His light whome he will. And God speaketh to mankind in allegories, for God is knower of all things.
  • In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary.
    • Aaron Rose, quoted in The Reader's Digest Vol. 152 (1998), p. 185, also in Live in the Light : A Journal of Self-Enlightenment (2003) by Mary Engelbreit.
  • Absolutely have to have dark in order to have light. [...] Gotta have opposites – dark and light, light and dark – continually in a painting. If you have light on light, you have nothing. If you have dark on dark, you basically have nothing. [...] You know, it's like in life: you've gotta have a little sadness once in a while, so you know when the good times come. I'm waiting on the good times now.
  • Light seeking light doth light of light beguile:
    So, ere you find where light in darkness lies,
    Your light grows dark by losing of your eyes
  • Light taking forever to get here,
    more precious when it arrives.
  • The path of the righteous ones is like the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established.
  • There are two kinds of light — the glow that illumines, and the glare that obscures.
  • For many centuries before modern science, and for the first two and a half centuries of modern science, the division of reality into matter and light seemed self-evident. ...As long as the separation between the massive and the massless persisted, a unified description of the physical world could not be achieved.
    • Frank Wilczek, The Lightness of Being – Mass, Ether and the Unification of Forces (2008)
  • Light was once the sight of God. As the gaze of Ra spanned space... In the night sky, planets and stars once played host to gods and angels, who in turn passed their gift of light to man...
    • Arthur Zajonc, Catching the Light: The Entwined History of Light and Mind (1993)
  • With the passing of the Cathars and of Grosseteste, the religious tradition of angelic light faded. Over time, science pruned away the trappings of spirit to fashion a material and mathematical imagination of light. In doing so, it similarly reshaped its image of man and cosmos.
    • Arthur Zajonc, Catching the Light: The Entwined History of Light and Mind (1993)

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 455-57.
  • Now that the sun is gleaming bright,
    Implore we, bending low,
    That He, the Uncreated Light,
    May guide us as we go.
    • Attributed to Adam de Saint Victor. Old Latin Hymn said to have been sung at the death-bed of William the Conqueror.
  • Misled by Fancy's meteor-ray,
    By passion driven;
    But yet the light that led astray,
    Was light from Heaven.
  • Hinc lucem et pocula sacra.
    • Hence light and the sacred vessels.
    • Motto of Cambridge University.
  • Light is the first of painters. There is no object so foul that intense light will not make it beautiful.
  • I shall light a candle of understanding in thine heart, which shall not be put out.
    • II Esdras, XIV. 25.
  • And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
    • Genesis. I. 3.
  • Against the darkness outer
    God's light his likeness takes,
    And he from the mighty doubter
    The great believer makes.
  • Mehr Licht!
    • More light!
    • Said to be the last words of Goethe
  • Wo viel Licht is, ist starker Schatten.
  • Blasted with excess of light.
  • Like our dawn, merely a sob of light.
  • The true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
    • John. I. 9.
  • He was a burning and a shining light
    • John. V. 35.
  • Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you.
    • John, XII. 35.
  • The prayer of Ajax was for light;
    Through all that dark and desperate fight,
    The blackness of that noonday night.
  • Fra l' ombre un lampo solo
    Basta al nocchier fugace
    Che già ritrova il polo,
    Già riconosce il mar.
    • In the dark a glimmering light is often sufficient for the pilot to find the polar star and to fix his course.
    • Metastasio, Achille, 1, 6.
  • Where glowing embers through the room
    Teach light to counterfeit a gloom.
  • But let my due feet never fail
    To walk the studious cloisters pale,
    And love the high embowed roof,
    With antique pillars massy proof,
    And storied windows richly dight;
    Casting a dim religious light.
  • Where art thou, beam of light? Hunters from the mossy rock, saw ye the blue-eyed fair?
  • Ex luce lucellum.
    • Out of light a little profit.
    • William Pitt's description of the Window Tax. Also suggested by Robert Lowe, Chancellor, as a motto for matchboxes, when the British Government introduced a match tax, 1871.
  • Those having lamp will pass them on to others.
  • Nature and Nature's laws lay hid in night:
    God said, "Let Newton be!" and all was light.
  • Nur der Gewissenswurm schwärmt mit der Eule. Sünder und böse Geister scheun das Licht.
    • Only the worm of conscience consorts with the owl. Sinners and evil spirits shun the light.
    • Friedrich Schiller, Liebe und Cabale, V. I.
  • But it is not necessary to light a candle to the sun.
  • 'Twas a light that made
    Darkness itself appear
    A thing of comfort.
  • An unreflected light did never yet
    Dazzle the vision feminine.
    • Sir Henry Taylor, Philip Van Artevelde, Part I, Act I, scene 5, line 88.
  • Thy prayer was "Light—more Light"—while Time shall last
    Thou sawest a glory growing on the night,
    But not the shadows which that light would cast,
    Till shadows vanish in the Light of Light.
    • Alfred Tennyson, Inscription on the Window in memory of Caxton, in St. Margaret's Church, Westminster, London.
  • The light that never was on sea or land,
    The consecration, and the poet's dream.
  • But ne'er to a seductive lay let faith be given;
    Nor deem that "light that leads astray" is light from Heaven.

See also

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