A simple question, but one with a not so simple answer. Or, to be precise, no single answer. To a physicist, light has a very different meaning to, say, a philosopher. Three scientists shine their own light on light.
Understanding the world
For philosopher Ignaas Devisch, light makes him think immediately of the Enlightenment. “The philosophy of trying to understand how the world works, in order to escape the darkness,” he explains. But there is also fire. A source of light and warmth. “Something that scientists need to take care not to lose sight of.”
The origin of all life
Biologist Matthew Shawkey sees light as the origin, the meaning of life. “Plants use light to produce food, which leads to the production of oxygen. Without oxygen there would be no life.” But you also need light to be able to discern colour. “Imagine how life would be if we were unable to see a rainbow…”
A wave of information
“For a physicist, light is an electromagnetic wave,” says Professor Natalie Jachowicz. That is the short version, because light is actually an enormous source of information. Information that can come from very far away. “From the sun, from distant stars, or even from other galaxies.”
Experiment with light yourself!
Change the direction of light without a mirror? Separating a light source into different colors? Or discover why the sky is blue, the sun yellow and the clouds white? At the time of the Ghent Light Festival, Professor Philippe Smet explains how you can play with light yourself!
Can you grasp hold of light and facts about light?
Professor Philippe Smet of Ghent University (Faculty of Science, Department of Solid-State Sciences) has been researching light for 20 years. So, he is the man to explain exactly what light is.