This podcast is part of the series: Einstein Demonstrations
McWane Science Center
This demonstration exhibits light’s wave-like characteristics. This is half of light’s duality; the other half being light’s particle-like characteristics. Using diffraction gratings we can compare the visible parts of atomic spectra for different elements. A diffraction grating consists of a large number of equally spaced parallel slits. These slits bend light differently according to wavelength. Incandescent lights work by heating a solid piece of tungsten wire. This heating of a solid produces a variety of wavelengths, giving an impressive spread of colors when viewed with a diffraction grating. Since the other lamps are single gaseous elements, they emit only a few wavelengths of light, their individual atomic spectra.