The Particle Nature of Light Video Lessons

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Problem: Part A. Use the PhET simulation to adjust the temperature and examine where λmax occurs for the surface of the Earth, a light bulb, the sun, and Sirius A. Then, place each of these sources of blackbody radiation in order of increasing frequency with respect to their λmax values. Light bulb, Earth, Sun, Sirius AVisible light is a type of electromagnetic (EM) radiation. EM radiation has wavelike characteristics, which are periodic oscillations with a fixed distance between peaks (wavelength, λ) and a consistent number of cycles per second (frequency, ν). The interactions between matter and light are quantized in nature, which means specific packets, rather than a continuous gradient, of EM radiation are absorbed and emitted by atoms. The relationship between frequency (ν, Greek nu) and wavelength (λ, Greek lambda) can be described by the following equation:c = λνwhere c is the speed of light. The speed of light is a constant that is specified for each medium, and it has the value of 2.998 × 108 m/s in vacuum. Therefore, the frequency of light can be determined if the wavelength is known and vice versa.The phenomenon known as blackbody radiation is the temperature-dependent emission of EM radiation. At any given temperature, a broad range of wavelengths is being emitted by materials, and the wavelength at which the emission intensity of EM radiation is highest is denoted as λmax. Both λmax and the range of wavelengths shift with temperature, as can be observed in the simulation

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Part A. Use the PhET simulation to adjust the temperature and examine where λmax occurs for the surface of the Earth, a light bulb, the sun, and Sirius A. Then, place each of these sources of blackbody radiation in order of increasing frequency with respect to their λmax values.


 Light bulb, Earth, Sun, Sirius A


Visible light is a type of electromagnetic (EM) radiation. EM radiation has wavelike characteristics, which are periodic oscillations with a fixed distance between peaks (wavelength, λ) and a consistent number of cycles per second (frequency, ν). The interactions between matter and light are quantized in nature, which means specific packets, rather than a continuous gradient, of EM radiation are absorbed and emitted by atoms. The relationship between frequency (ν, Greek nu) and wavelength (λ, Greek lambda) can be described by the following equation:

c = λν

where c is the speed of light. The speed of light is a constant that is specified for each medium, and it has the value of 2.998 × 108 m/s in vacuum. Therefore, the frequency of light can be determined if the wavelength is known and vice versa.


The phenomenon known as blackbody radiation is the temperature-dependent emission of EM radiation. At any given temperature, a broad range of wavelengths is being emitted by materials, and the wavelength at which the emission intensity of EM radiation is highest is denoted as λmax. Both λmax and the range of wavelengths shift with temperature, as can be observed in the simulation

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