does light follow a helical path ?


by shiveeshfoteda
Tags: electromagnetics, optics
shiveeshfoteda
shiveeshfoteda is offline
#1
Sep9-13, 10:51 AM
P: 3
as the Electric field is perpendicular to magnetic field , would the over all sum of the sinusoidal waves would turn up to be a helical shape ?
Phys.Org News Partner Physics news on Phys.org
Physicists consider implications of recent revelations about the universe's first light
Vacuum ultraviolet lamp of the future created in Japan
Grasp of SQUIDs dynamics facilitates eavesdropping
DaleSpam
DaleSpam is offline
#2
Sep9-13, 11:37 AM
Mentor
P: 16,484
It sounds like you are talking about circular polarization. Yes, you can have circular polarized light.
HallsofIvy
HallsofIvy is offline
#3
Sep9-13, 11:48 AM
Math
Emeritus
Sci Advisor
Thanks
PF Gold
P: 38,894
But "circularly polarized" means that the "intensity vector" of the light wave describes a helix around the path of the light. Light does NOT "follow a helical path".

Nugatory
Nugatory is offline
#4
Sep9-13, 11:51 AM
Sci Advisor
Thanks
P: 2,960

does light follow a helical path ?


Quote Quote by shiveeshfoteda View Post
as the Electric field is perpendicular to magnetic field , would the over all sum of the sinusoidal waves would turn up to be a helical shape ?
No.

Those diagrams you see, in which the E and the B field are both sinusoidal curves oriented perpendicular to the direction of movement, can be very confusing. They aren't pictures/illustrations and nothing is moving sideways - they're just graphs that allow you to read off the magnitude and direction of the field at a particular point.

The light wave (in the simplest case of a plane wave, which is what those diagrams are describing) is a plane wave. If the wave is travelling in the +x direction, then for every point in any plane of constant x (and varying y and z values) at any given time the direction and magnitude of the E field will be the same and will vary sinusoidally over time; and likewise for the B field.
DaleSpam
DaleSpam is offline
#5
Sep9-13, 12:00 PM
Mentor
P: 16,484
Quote Quote by HallsofIvy View Post
But "circularly polarized" means that the "intensity vector" of the light wave describes a helix around the path of the light. Light does NOT "follow a helical path".
Yes, perhaps I was over-interpreting the OP. The polarization describes the orientation of the fields, not the path.


Register to reply

Related Discussions
velocity of proton following a helical path?? need a bit of help Introductory Physics Homework 6
An electron describing a helical path Introductory Physics Homework 1
Helical path Differential Geometry 2
helical path Precalculus Mathematics Homework 1
which path to follow ... Academic Guidance 0