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Old 06-11-2019, 08:38 AM
KidCharlemagne is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 5,158

Question about light traveling through glass from an annoyed pre-dilletante.


Can I rant for a second about how frustrating it is to try get good information about the nature of light from popular books and the internet? How I can read/watch videos for hours about the double-slit experiment only to find out how popularizations of the concept make it seem so much "spookier" than it is by saying that it's almost as if the universe is making a conscious attempt to disguise the nature of light from experimenters and that I can only find the truth about it ten posts down in a question on the physics stack exchange?

Ok rant over.

So here's my latest: I thought I understood why light slowed down through glass - about how the energy of a photon was absorbed and re-emitted from multiple electrons and that the pathways of the daisy chain weren't linear, etc, etc. Then I come across a video on YouTube from some physics professor who certainly seemed credible who said he wanted to clear up misconceptions about light traveling through glass. He maintained that in order for a photon to be absorbed by an atom it's quanta of energy had to exactly match the energy required to move an electron to a higher energy state. Since the electrons in a glass lattice had particularly high energy jump requirements, photons could not be absorbed by the atoms and therefore kept moving on.

So which is it?

I understand that often the seeming contradictions in explanations on em waves are due to the inherent complexity of the subject, and that these explanations suffer from the "three blind men describing an elephant" effect, but the difference in these explanations seem to go beyond that.

As an aside, can anyone recommend a book on the full spectrum of electromagnetic waves - how they are created, interact, etc. that strikes a good balance between anthropomorphizing physical phenomena and including to many sigma symbols?