This is the first of three foundation chapters supporting those that follow. The themes of these initial chapters are somewhat fancifully taken as the birth, death, and life of photons, or, more prosaically, emission, absorption, and scattering.
In this chapter and succeeding ones you will encounter the phrase "as if", which can be remarkably useful as a tranquilizer and peacemaker. For example, instead of taking the stance that light is a wave (particle), then fiercely defending it, we can be less strident and simply say that it is as if light is a wave (particle). This phrase is even the basis of an entire philosophy propounded by Hans Vaihinger. In discussing its origins he notes that "The Philosophy of 'As If' ... proves that consciously false conceptions and judgements are applied in all sciences; and ... these scientific Fictions are to be distinguished from Hypotheses. The latter are assumptions which are probable, assumptions the truth of which can be proved by further experience. They are therefore verifiable. Fictions are never verifiable, for they are hypotheses which are known to be false, but which are employed because of their utility."
Was this article helpful?