Monthly Archives: January 2021

Most Light is Black

Amanda Goram got me thinking about light yesterday and I came to this idea inspired by her poem especially where she exhorts us to be the light. I can’t praise her highly enough. We are so fortunate to have inspiring and accomplished people such as her representing us right now.

Not sure if this is a conjecture or just an art project but here goes: Most ‘light’ is ‘black’. When we examine the wave nature of light we find visible light is modelled successfully by a certain set of frequencies or wavelengths of electromagnetic wave from about 10^12 to 10^16 Hz (you’ll have to do the wavelength conversions yourself λν = c.) That’s a rough difference of about 10^4, or 10,000.

The rest of the spectrum frequencies are from 10^4 to 10^12 Hz and from 10^16 to 10^20 Hz. These parts of the spectrum are not visible electromagnetic radiation, they are ‘black’ or not perceptible to human eyes. Imagine a world where we could see the full electromagnetic spectrum; that’s a different thought experiment but a worthy one. These two parts of the EM spectrum represent differences of approximately 10^8 and 10^4 which together sum to about 100,010,000 or about a range of one hundred million Hertz for invisible light. That is four orders of magnitude greater than the difference of ten thousand Hertz we get for visible light.

This very coarse math shows that the vast majority of light (electromagnetic radiation) is beyond the ability of our eyes to perceive so “most light is black”. Is this just an artifact of our biology? Yes. You can see the EM spectrum represented visually, though as a logarithmic scale, here:

Always a Hard Day

This is always a difficult day for me, January 11. My dad would have been 88 today in 2021. He would have been able to play with his grandchildren instead of never having met them, nor them him. This is probably the saddest part for my siblings and I collectively. I want to express my sincere condolences to anyone who has lost a loved one and was not able to be with them, to say goodbye, to hold them and speak with them one last time especially during this coronavirus pandemic. My father died accidentally while I was living in Taipei, one week before I was set to go back for a visit in 2004. It was about the worst thing that ever happened to me and I miss him something awful. I suspect it was the one of the catalysts for my bipolar disorder and subsequent diagnosis. Remembering what a good, loving person he was helps and it has gotten easier with time. So I pray that all of you missing your beloved family and friends and being unable to be with them, at the inevitable time, strength and fortitude to continue on and know you are not alone. I wish you all peace and comfort in the knowledge that, like Carl Sagan pointed out, we are all still here together on this one tiny blue speck floating in a sun beam where every being that has ever existed on this planet has lived out all their days. While that might not be as comforting to some as placing their loved one’s in the stars or heavens, it is nonetheless true that we are all forever and always made from stars and among the stars.