|This illustration shows the dual nature of light, which acts like both particles and waves. In a new experiment reported in November 2012, researchers observed light photons acting like both particles and waves simultaneously.|
Is light made of waves, or particles?
This fundamental question has dogged scientists for decades, because light seems to be both. However, until now, experiments have revealed light to act either like a particle, or a wave, but never the two at once.
Now, for the first time, a new type of experiment has shown light behaving like both a particle and a wave simultaneously, providing a new dimension to the quandary that could help reveal the true nature of light, and of the whole quantum world.
The debate goes back at least as far as Isaac Newton, who advocated that light was made of particles, and James Clerk Maxwell, whose successful theory of electromagnetism, unifying the forces of electricity and magnetism into one, relied on a model of light as a wave. Then in 1905, Albert Einstein explained a phenomenon called the photoelectric effect using the idea that light was made of particles called photons (this discovery won him the Nobel Prize in physics) read more >>>