My interest in light and color really blossomed when I first was presented with the phenomenon of the light spectrum, and in particular, the characteristic spectra of the chemical elements. The full spectrum of white light from the sun was always cool, but line spectra from those long skinny light tubes we had in chemistry class were especially interesting to me.
“Electrons,” they taught me, were responsible for the colors of the line spectra. Then, my teachers revealed that if you embrace a “quantum” view of the atom, one in which electrons existed in discreet energy states, you could mathematically explain why you saw the four visible hydrogen spectral lines. There was beauty in that revelation for me, that math, chemistry, and color were all united.
How humans came to know all this fascinated me next, which set me down the path of studying the history of science, and in particular, the history of the electron’s discovery, and how our understanding of the humble electron has changed over time.
“Light Chaser” is a modest homage to the scientists and educators who opened up the world of light and color to me. As Armand Trousseau (1801-1867), a French physician, is quoted as saying, “Every science touches art at some points—every art has its scientific side.”