More Thoughts on Light

I always love a concept that I can roll around in my head and play with, the same way how a pebble or your favourite mug can feel comfortable & interesting in your hands. I’m reading for the umpteenth time “God’s Debris” by Scott Adams of Dilbert-fame. It’s a book totally unrelated to his other creative work and it explores the nature of reality through a very well-crafted tale. I highly encourage you to read it, and as he advises, to then discuss it with a friend over a tasty beverage.

There’s a concept that he mentions in the book about the nature of light that I’ve just come across again, and I absolutely love it. The central character, an old man, presents some challenging insights to the other character and the reader about a number of topics and these insights often take the form of a very simple idea. Regarding the nature of light, the old man states that

“Light is the outer limit of what is possible. It is not a physical thing; it is a boundary.”

For everything that we know about light, there are many things don’t make sense. Its speed, nature, effects on other objects – we’ve come to a certain level of understanding often by accepting certain truths and paradoxes. The statement that the old man makes in the book didn’t resonate with me at first. After sitting with it for a while, I did come to realize that it does match my other beliefs & personal understanding of reality.

Visible light is just a tiny sliver of the entire electromagnetic spectrum. That spectrum covers a huge range, and what I’ve come to believe is that all electromagnetic energy is involved in the transmission of information. It is how we know that something has happened. It is what is sent across space & time from one point to another, conveying that an event has occurred.

In that sense, yes – light is a boundary. It is the edge of information that is making its way across space & time. As the character states, it is the boundary of what is possible – that in itself is quite a beautiful statement. Light, or energy in general, is that boundary for what is possible – once we experience it, new opportunities present themselves to us. We learn something new, we experience something different.

Kind of like Schrödinger’s cat, what is beyond the boundary is in an unknown state of flux. Only once that boundary is crossed by energy and we can receive information are the possibilities revealed. Probability & possibility can have a physical representation through light instead of being an abstract mental concept. The character provides the analogy that light is like the horizon – it is something that can be experienced but never fully reached or attained.

I feel that there’s a lot more to this concept below the surface, or just beyond the boundary to be more consistent. I will enjoy mulling this over and sharing new thoughts here as they reveal themselves.