8 Reasons We Should Care About Light
Fireworks, a beautiful example of visible light, are often used to celebrate the start of the New Year. Credit: Colin Legg
As 2015 winds down, we find we have much in the world’s events to look back on. One effort to celebrate is the success of this past year being the United Nations’ International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies. This worldwide program, with thousands of activities and millions of participants in over 100 countries, sought to – pardon the pun – highlight the many ways light in all of its forms affects our daily lives. Light can impact a wide range of important fields including healthcare, energy, education, communications, manufacturing, and climate study.
Though many of us think of light as the opposite of darkness, it is so much more. The light that we can see with our eyes is but a small fraction of all of the light that exists in the Universe. Light comes in many forms: radio waves, microwaves, infrared light, visible light, ultraviolet radiation, X-rays and gamma rays.
So to commemorate the end of the International Year of Light, we’ve compiled some of what we consider to be the most surprising or interesting facts about the seven major categories of light. As the countdown starts for 2016, we’ll note that the lights of Times Square and the descending crystal ball represent only the tiniest sliver of the truly amazing things that light can do. Light – including its invisible forms – affects us every day, often in ways we don’t even realize or notice. Without light and its superpowers, our lives wouldn’t be the same.
1) Radio waves are responsible for making radios work (not surprising), but not for delivering any sound to us.
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