Light phenomena, Ancient beliefs, Wave theory


The phenomena of light have been subject to much speculation and controversy throughout history. The ancient Hebrews believed that light was formed by God's command on the first day of creation. The ancient Egyptians worshipped the sun, the source of light, and called it Ra; the Persians worshipped the sun as Mithras. By the fifth century B.C. the Greek's quest to comprehend light came under natural investigation instead of a supernatural mysticism. Through logic, the ancient Greek philosopher, Empedocles, reasoned that light must have a measurable speed since it takes time for light to get from one place to another. About a century later, Aristotle postulated that white light was pure and that color was the result of white light's infection of earthly properties. However, in spite of the speculation about the nature of light in the ancient and medieval world, it was not until the seventeenth century in Europe that significant strides were made towards understanding and deciphering the phenomena of light. During this time, controversy arose in the scientific community concerning the constitution and motion of light. The worldrenowned Dutch scientist from Den Haag, Christiaan Huygens, developed the wave theory of light as depicted in his 1690 publication of Treatise On Light-one of the greatest contributions to seventeenth century science in understanding the phenomena of light.