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Light Moves
Travel and Propogation of Light Waves
Visible Light and the Electromagnetic Spectrum
Professor Boggs


This song is available on Professor Boggs' Physical Science Pack
.

This song is also available on Professor Boggs' Mad Science Factory

Notes from Professor Boggs:
      Light is obviously a huge subject to tackle in a song! After grasping at and rejecting several concept “angles” I finally chose to focus on visible light and how we see, while branching off to some side topics (other EM spectrum, particle/wave) towards the end. This song is a great lead-in to an optics lab, especially one involving combining of filtered light.
       Your more computer-inclined students will be interested in the RGB color model tie-in. You can also, if you wish, explore the “subtractive” color model used for ink printing: CMYK (cyan the “red absorber”, magenta the “green absorber”, yellow the “blue absorber” and “K” pure black).
       If this is the first exposure to wave-particle duality, it should probably be mentioned but left alone for future exploration (unless you happen to have one of THOSE students).

Verses

Light moves
Like a wave upon the ocean
Light moves
Like ripples on the sea
Light spreads
From a source in all directions
Bouncing off to make reflections
Like the shining moon

Light sings
In a million undulations
Light sings
In a song of many tones
Light’s song
Brings a wealth of information
We see only three vibrations
Red, green and blue

Oh, light can vibrate fast or slow
Its energy is high or low
But of those million frequencies
Our eyes are only built to see
Red, green and blue

White light
Mixes these three waves together
White light
Shines upon our colored earth
Green leaves
Drink the red and blue from sunshine
Bounce the green back in a straight line
To my waiting eye

Sky light
On a brilliant summer blue day
Sky light
Even air will drink the light
Blue light
Scatters forth in all directions
Making blue the sky’s complexion
With a yellow sun

Green and red make yellow
Green and blue, cyan
Red and blue, magenta
All the colors can come from
Red, green, and blue

Strange light
Gamma, X-ray, ultraviolet
Strange light
Infrared and microwave
Our sight
Cannot show us all the spectrum
But our instruments detect them
All across the sky

Light works
In the wondrous ways of wavelength
Light works
It’s emitted and absorbed
Light sparks
From the dancing of electrons
Giving birth to streams of photons
Little sparks of light

Oh, light’s a particle, a wave
a mystery how it behaves
and how it carries energy
to light our world and let us see
red, green and blue…

 

Comments

Light – or more generally, electromagnetic waves – is one of our greatest mysteries, as well as our greatest source of information about the whole universe! Most of the time, it’s useful to imagine light as a vibrating “wave” spreading out in an expanding sphere from its source.

When light hits something “reflective” it can bounce off, just like water waves bouncing off a sea-wall. Most of what we “see”, like the moon, is reflected light.
Waves have frequency, the speed of the ripples. Faster vibrations (higher frequencies) carry more energy. Light comes in billions of different frequencies (or wavelengths, two ways of talking about the same thing).

How many of these wavelengths do we human beings see? Three! We call them Red, Green, and Blue light, and those frequencies trigger the “cones” in our eye’s retina. Their wavelengths are tiny, over 200 of their ripples could fit in the width of a human hair. But there are lots of waves even tinier that we can’t see!


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Many thanks to Larry Morris (Professor Boggs) for permission to display these lyrics and comments.
© Larry Morris. All rights reserved. Used with permission.


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