When was it proven that light is an electromagnetic wave?

In summary, Maxwell's discovery of the propagation of electromagnetic disturbances at the speed of light, along with Faraday's association of electromagnetism and light, laid the foundation for understanding light as an electromagnetic wave. While nothing can be completely proven in science, Hertz's experiments in the late 19th century provided evidence that supported Maxwell's theories and solidified the connection between light and electromagnetism.
  • #1
swampwiz
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I know that Maxwell discovered that a disturbance in the electromagnetic field propagates at the speed of light - which Occam's razor would say that light being such a wave would explain it - but not definitively that that is true (e.g., gravity waves, or at least at that time in history, some other type of undiscovered wave could have caused it, etc.) And it seems that by Maxwell's time, the diffraction properties of light had established its wavelength - but without proving that light has a certain frequency, and that it generates measurable electromagnetic effects at that frequency, it could not be proven that it was such an electromagnetic wave. I would think by now, this has been proven (e.g., in LEDs, etc.), but when was it actually proven so?
 
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Strictly speaking, nothing is ever completely proven in science, but the association with electromagnetism was discovered by Faraday in 1845. Maxwell's work, pretty much fully describing it, followed. The wiki on light describes that.
 
  • #3
swampwiz said:
I know that Maxwell discovered that a disturbance in the electromagnetic field propagates at the speed of light - which Occam's razor would say that light being such a wave would explain it - but not definitively that that is true (e.g., gravity waves, or at least at that time in history, some other type of undiscovered wave could have caused it, etc.) And it seems that by Maxwell's time, the diffraction properties of light had established its wavelength - but without proving that light has a certain frequency, and that it generates measurable electromagnetic effects at that frequency, it could not be proven that it was such an electromagnetic wave. I would think by now, this has been proven (e.g., in LEDs, etc.), but when was it actually proven so?

Heinrich Hertz experimentally verified some of Maxwell's predictions and "proved that the maestro Maxwell was right".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinrich_Hertz
 
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Related to When was it proven that light is an electromagnetic wave?

1. What is the evidence that light is an electromagnetic wave?

The first evidence that light is an electromagnetic wave was provided by Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell in the 1860s. He developed a set of equations known as Maxwell's equations, which showed that light has both electric and magnetic components and that these components travel through space at the speed of light.

2. When was Maxwell's theory of electromagnetism proven?

Maxwell's theory of electromagnetism was proven in the late 19th and early 20th centuries through a series of experiments. One of the most famous was the Michelson-Morley experiment in 1887, which demonstrated that the speed of light is constant and does not depend on the motion of the observer.

3. How did scientists prove that light is an electromagnetic wave?

In addition to the Michelson-Morley experiment, other experiments such as the Hertz experiment and the photoelectric effect also provided evidence for the electromagnetic nature of light. These experiments showed that light could be reflected, refracted, and diffracted in ways similar to other electromagnetic waves, such as radio waves and microwaves.

4. Was there any controversy surrounding the proof of light as an electromagnetic wave?

Yes, there was some controversy surrounding Maxwell's theory of electromagnetism and the proof of light as an electromagnetic wave. Some scientists at the time still believed in the older theory of the "luminiferous ether," which was thought to be the medium through which light waves traveled. However, subsequent experiments and observations supported Maxwell's theory and eventually led to its widespread acceptance.

5. How does the understanding of light as an electromagnetic wave impact modern technology?

The understanding of light as an electromagnetic wave has had a huge impact on modern technology. This knowledge is the basis for many technologies we use every day, such as television, radio, and wireless communication. It also allows for the development of more advanced technologies, such as fiber optics, which use light to transmit information over long distances at high speeds.

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