Meteorology: Understanding the Atmosphere            Ackerman and Knox



The Corpuscular Theory of Light
Newton proposed this theory that treats light as being composed of tiny particles. We use this theory to describe reflection.   While the theory can explain the primary and secondary rainbows, it cannot explain the supernumerary bow, the corona, or an iridescent cloud.

The Wave Theory of Light

Proposed by Huygens, this theory describes light as waves that spread out from the source that generates the light.   Each color is a different wavelength. Supernumerary bows are explained by assuming that light is a wave.

The Electromagnetic Theory of Light

Maxwell's theory describes light as having electric and magnetic properties--electromagnetic waves. It is an improvement over the wave theory in that it explains how light is generated.   Visible light is only one type of electromagnetic wave. This theory is very math intensive.

The Quantum Theory of Light

This theory is more mathematical than Maxwell's equations! It is similar to the corpuscular theory of Newton, except that instead of describing light as particles, light is composed of 'packets of energy' or photons. The energy of the photon determines the color