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B Semantics Q about electromagnetic spectrum and light

  1. Apr 4, 2016 #1
    Kind of a silly question here, but one that has nagged at me for some time:

    Does the word "light" refer to all wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum, or only to the visible light that we can see?

    Also, if light only refers to visible electromagnetic radiation, then what about ultraviolet light?

    Thanks in advance for your replies!
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 4, 2016 #2


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    You're right, it is kinda silly. However, as with everything else, you need to look at the context!

    I've often used the word "light" to generally refer to all electromagnetic wave. This is because, in most cases, there is no difference between any of them. However, in some case, one has to distinguish between visible "light" and non-visible light. Often, the word "visible" will accompany such a thing if the distinction needs to be made.

    So let's not fret too much on the "ultraviolet light" issue. As long as the INTENTION of the message is clear, and no confusion arises, then there is no problem here.

  4. Apr 4, 2016 #3


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    Sometimes the former, some other times the latter although I believe the term "light" was originally used to refer to the visible electromagnetic spectrum.
    So, just follow the context.
  5. Apr 4, 2016 #4
    Its all light just in different categories. What is called visible light is the light that we see. We can also see infrared, ultra violet, x-rays, etc using specially designed equipment. Night vision, and telescopes that we use to observe different wavelengths across the universe to get a deeper look.
  6. Apr 4, 2016 #5
    PS. Its all light waves at different frequencies, and photons
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