Matter & Energy


Matter is composed of atoms or groups of atoms called molecules. The arrangement of particles in a material depends on the physical state of the substance. In a solid, particles form a compact structure that resists flow. Particles in a liquid have more energy than those in a solid. They can flow past one another, but they remain close. Particles in a gas have the most energy. They move rapidly and are separated from one another by relatively large distances.

Measuring Light

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A. Brightness

Scientists use the units candela and lumen to measure the brightness of light as perceived by humans. These units account for the different response of the eye to light of different colors. The lumen measures the total amount of energy in the light radiated in all directions, and the candela measures the amount radiated in a particular direction. The candela was originally called the candle, and it was defined in terms of the light produced by a standard candle. It is now defined as the energy flow in a given direction of a yellow-green light with a frequency of 540 x 1012 Hz and a radiant intensity, or energy output, of 1/683 watt into the opening of a cone of one steradian. The steradian is a measure of angle in three dimensions.

The lumen can be defined in terms of a source that radiates one candela uniformly in all directions. If a sphere with a radius of one foot were centered on the light source, then one square foot of the inside surface of the sphere would be illuminated with a flux of one lumen. Flux means the rate at which light energy is falling on the surface. The illumination, or luminance, of that one square foot is defined to be one foot-candle.

The illumination at a different distance from a source can be calculated from the inverse square law: One lumen of flux spreads out over an area that increases as the square of the distance from the center of the source. This means that the light per square foot decreases as the inverse square of the distance from the source. For instance, if 1 square foot of a surface that is 1 foot away from a source has an illumination of 1 foot-candle, then 1 square foot of a surface that is 4 feet away will have an illumination of 1/16 foot-candle. This is because 4 feet away from the source, the 1 lumen of flux landing on 1 square foot has had to spread out over 16 square feet. In the metric system, the unit of luminous flux is also called the lumen, and the unit of illumination is defined in meters and is called the lux.