Visible light (commonly referred to simply as light) is electromagnetic radiation that is visible to the human eye, and is responsible for the sense of sight. Visible light is usually defined as having a wavelength in the range of 400 nanometres (nm), or 400×10−9 m, to 700 nanometres – between the infrared, with longer wavelengths and the ultraviolet, with shorter wavelengths. These numbers do not represent the absolute limits of human vision, but the approximate range within which most people can see reasonably well under most circumstances. Various sources define visible light as narrowly as 420 to 680 to as broadly as 380 to 800 nm. Under ideal laboratory conditions, people can see infrared up to at least 1050 nm, children and young adults ultraviolet down to about 310 to 313 nm.
Primary properties of visible light are intensity, propagation direction, frequency or wavelength spectrum, and polarisation, while its speed in a vacuum, 299,792,458 meters per second, is one of the fundamental constants of nature. Visible light, as with all types of electromagnetic radiation (EMR), is experimentally found to always move at this speed in vacuum.
In common with all types of EMR, visible light is emitted and absorbed in tiny "packets" called photons, and exhibits properties of both waves and particles. This property is referred to as the wave–particle duality. The study of light, known as optics, is an important research area in modern physics.
The speed of light in a vacuum is defined to be exactly 299,792,458 m/s (approximately 186,282 miles per second). The fixed value of the speed of light in SI units results from the fact that the metre is now defined in terms of the speed of light. All forms of electromagnetic radiation move at exactly this same speed in vacuum.
Different physicists have attempted to measure the speed of light throughout history. Galileo attempted to measure the speed of light in the seventeenth century. An early experiment to measure...
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