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# Light Travels in Straight Line

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Last updated date: 15th Aug 2024
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## An Introduction

Light is one form of energy that plays a vital role in our life. We cannot imagine a world full of darkness. Light makes our vision possible and enhances the beauty of everything around us. Light is playing an important role in both art and science. Light is one of the important tools in science that helps scientists to observe things around the world.

Some theories of science are saying it is particles and some of them are saying light is a wave. If the light is a wave, how does light travel and what is the medium of propagation? Light travels in a straight line. The straight-line path of light is very much evident when light travels through a dusty atmosphere. In this article, we will be discussing the straight line motion of light.

## How does Light Travel?

Light can travel through both in a medium and in a vacuum. But in a vacuum, there will not be any particles light can not reflect by hitting it. Hence, in a vacuum, light is invisible. In air, light can be reflected by hitting dust or some other particles, hence light is visible in the air.

Light can be considered as waves. Light waves travel in different wavelengths and depending on the wavelength, different light has different colours. For example, the high wavelength light in visible light has a red colour and the shortest wavelength of light has a violet colour. Being a wave light can show properties of waves such as interference and diffraction.

The answer to the question of how light normally travels is that light travels in a straight line. But the actual answer is light seems to travel in a straight line because of the smaller diffraction effect of light. Diffraction is the bending of waves around an object such that it spreads out and illuminates an area where a shadow is expected.

For light, the wavelength is in the order of nanometers. This wavelength is too small and obstacles of this size cannot be determined by our naked eyes. Hence, we feel that light travels along a straight line. The straight-line motion of light is also called rectilinear propagation of light.

## Experiment for the Straight Line Motion of Light

Since the diffraction effect of light is too small, normally light travels along a straight line. By using a simple experimental setup, we can prove that light travels along a straight line.

Place three cardboard sheets back to back in front of a candle on the tabletop. Make sure that the cardboard sheets and the candles are placed in a straight line. Light the candle and make a pinhole on each cardboard sheet. The holes should be made at equal height such that the flame of the candle is visible through them. Now look through the holes and observe light travels in which line. The light flame will be visible along the straight line of holes. Now move one of the cardboard sheets to either side and observe the flame. Can you see the flame? On moving the cardboard sheet, the flame will not be visible. Now, again place the cardboard sheet back in its position. The flame is visible now.

From this experiment, we can conclude that light travels along a straight line and this experiment diagram is given below.

## Examples of Straight Line Motion of Light

### Light Travels in Straight Line Examples are as Follows:

• Light comes out from a torch or train or lamp follows a straight line path.

• A straight line path of light is visible when Sunlight comes out through the small holes in a dusty atmosphere.

• When we place any opaque object in front of the object, we observe that the object will be invisible. It is because light cannot bend through the corners of the opaque object.

## Interesting Facts

• Sunlight can reach a depth of 80m in the ocean.

• Paul Dirac proposed a theory in explaining the dual nature of light in 1927.

• Particles of light are called photons.

• The scientist Euclid Catoptrics in 280 BC found light travels in straight-line inhomogeneous media.

## Key Features

• Light travels along a straight line.

• The straight-line motion of light is due to its small diffraction effects.

• Light comes out from the train, torch, and lamp are examples of straight line motion of light.

## FAQs on Light Travels in Straight Line

1. What is rectilinear propagation of light?

Light travels along a straight line. The straight-line motion of light is called rectilinear propagation of light.

2. Explain why light travels in a straight line?

Light is a wave exhibiting the property of diffraction. The phenomenon of diffraction is observed only if the wavelength of the wave matches the size of the particle it collides with. Light has wavelengths in the order of nanometers. Usually, an object of nanometer size can not be seen by the naked eye. Hence, the diffraction effect of light is too small to be considered. So, light appears to travel along a straight line.

3. Why is light invisible in a vacuum?

Light can travel through a vacuum. Since in a vacuum there are no particles, light can not reflect. Hence, light is invisible in a vacuum.