5 Things I Bet You Didn’t Know About Light

‘In the beginning there was nothing. God said, ‘Let there be light!’ And there was light. There was still nothing, but you could see it a whole lot better.’


Most people think light is boring. But just imagine what a dark and miserable place the universe would be without it. Indeed, we take the phenomenon of light for granted SO much that we’re missing out on its myriad of interesting and mind boggling features.

So why not hang a question mark on the thing you’ve so long taken for granted and check out these de-LIGHT-ful facts?

1 – Nothing travels faster than light

Light travels at a whopping 299,792,458metres every second. That means a beam of light can get all the way from the Earth to Mars in just three minutes and to the Sun in a mere eight and a half.

Light travels even faster than sound. In fact, it travels faster than anything else in the universe (with the possible exception of bad news).

2 – Light travels in waves

While light is travelling at this gargantuan speed, it is moving as tiny, invisible waves of energy. And you can only see something when one of these waves hits it.

Additionally, these light waves are so tiny that 14,000 of them would fit across your thumbnail!

On a sunny day one billion particles of light strike a pinhead.

What’s more, these particles have been in ether for twelve billion years!


3 – Lights are sometimes organs

Ok well that’s not strictly true, but bioluminescence is a term used to describe the production and emission of light by a living organism.

Glow worms might be the animal which springs to mind but did you know there is also a giant squid, known as the Taningia Danae which has yellow light organs found at the end of its feeding arms?

These arms are called photophores and though they produce more light than any other living creature, scientists have no concrete ideas as to why they do it!

Image by: dave-pemcoastphotos.com

4 – The first light bulb WASN’T made by Thomas Edison

We all know the myth that Thomas Edison was the Steve Jobs of his day.

But what if I told you that Edison’s iPod equivalent – the light bulb – was neither invented by him, nor did he hold the first patent for its modern design?

This accolade should be awarded to Joseph Swan, a British inventor who obtained the first patent for the light bulb a full year before Edison’s patent date.

He unveiled a carbon filament light bulb a whole 10 years before Edison claimed to have invented the very first light bulb!

It should be said though, that Edison did make some significant improvements to Swan’s light bulb – for example, his lasted 1,200 hours compared with Swans mere 150 – so next time you turn on your under cabinet lighting you should be thanking them both!

5 – Light is a powerful weapon

Image by: Mike Monaghan

It was surely after taking inspiration from Lord of the Rings and Star Wars that the US and British started using light as a weapon and called it the Dazzler. Dazzler’s are designed to disorientate enemies by momentarily blinding them with pulses of green laser light.
Though they are not supposed to cause permanent eye damage, there was one unlucky soldier who fired a light pulse at a mirror, where it rebounded and sent him blind in one eye.
Still, at least he didn’t attack himself with a lightsaber!
Do you know any more extraordinary facts about light?
Give us all a bit of light entertainment and leave your comment below…
Estelle Page is a thirty something interior designer who blogs for Luma Lighting.