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The primary characteristic of all light is reflection.
This hypothesis came to me as I watched a PBS documentary on the life of Albert Einstein. Einstein's life unfolded into three definable periods: the years leading to the General Theory of Relativity, the years leading to the Special Theory of Relativity, and the final 30 years spent in his quest for the Unified Field Theory.
As the program neared completion, I recalled early mention of an Einstein comment about light waves, and this being integral to his theories. I also recalled, from college days long ago, that there are (at least) two schools of thought about light: the 'wave' school and the 'particle' school.
At that point it became clear as a bell to me that light is neither wave nor particle!
Light is wavelike in nature if the process it reflects is wavelike. Light is particle-like in nature if the process it reflects is particle-like. And so on for any other process, or school of thought, which may exist.
I believe that had Einstein viewed light in this fashion he might well have successfully developed the Unified Field Theory.
If reflection truly is the primary characteristic of all light, what then is light?
Decades ago I had a discussion about time and space with a Polish friend. He made the comment that there is no single word in the English language which defines time and space, as there is in Polish. Since then I have found a word which, I believe, correctly defines time, space and motion. That word is 'change'.
Recently a posting was made at a web board I often visit which mentioned that some scientists, somewhere, were attempting to prove that light was slowing down. I posted back, half joking, that maybe light is not slowing down but that we are speeding up.
As I reflect upon these things only one definition captures the complete essence of light for me.
Light is the benchmark of change.
Bob P. 31 October, 1999
-- Bob P. (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 15, 1999