A short tale about the light that surrounds us...

   Copyright © watercolors
by Craig Welch, 2006.
   All rights reserved.

Above is "First Blue Moon"
and below is "Lake Powell's Padre Bay."

The Message is Coming Through...

"Though most scientists did not at first appreciate the significance of Jansky's demonstration, news finally reached Wheaton, Illinois, where it inspired Grote Reber, another radio engineer, to study cosmic radio waves...So the world's second radio astronomer built his own 32-foot-diameter parabolic dish antenna in his backyard, while working full time for a radio company in Chicago...Reber found that sparks in automobile engines created too much interference during the daytime, he therefore spent long hours scanning the heavens at night."
[Above quote is from "The Edge of Infinity" by Fulvio Melia pp. 95-96.]

I recall a description about how to build a radio transmitter. Complex, yes. You need a capacitor to hold the charge and a switching circuit to to run the current back and forth across the antenna loop...mutually-perpendicular electric and magnetic fields "interlocking," generating an electromagnetic field, selfpropagating, to travel away from the antenna loop at the speed of light. Interlocking fields moving away like a chain of links.

All those spark plugs in Chicago. I recall an FM converter from Radio Shack which my dad installed on the 1971 Ford wagon. If you used unshielded spark plug cables, the "electrical interference" sounded as a whining tone from the radio. The engine's distributor was pumping a current through each cable to the spark plug and moved on to the next cable, through the entire V-8 cylinder sequence. Now as I think about it: a current runs to a spark plug and a magnetic field arises. The distributor moves on to the next cable, the current dies in the first, and on and on... Pulsing and dieing magnetic fields, generating...radio waves.

All those spark plugs in Chicago, making radio waves...All those hydrogen atoms in a galactic gas cloud...The heat drives the electrons up to a higher orbit, and, like the capacitor it discharges. Electric discharge builds a magnetic field and then dies, collapsing the magnetic field. Billions of those hydrogen atoms: charging and discharging. The hydrogen cloud glows, radiating its ruby-red light. Just like all those spark plugs pulsing their radio waves in Chicago.

The message is now coming through. Those spark plugs in the 1930s were little radio transmitters, sending their messages, just like the stars... Yes, now I understand. I understand the light. The cones in our eyes are little radio receivers, listening. Listening to three different radio signals, hearing the music of the optical world.

[Excerpt from a short essay on light by Craig Welch.]

Concept in short films.

Above, "Radio Tower"
and below is "Light Chain: the light ray."

Northern Arizona and Southern Utah

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Thanks to Bill Bruehl and David Welch for their contributions
to my understanding of both the poetry and the science
of light as it appears to us in the natural world.

Light Beam Photographed in the Reno Art Museum, June 2003.

Below, shadows iluminated by daylight are bluish

and by incandescent are reddish in color.

Solar X-rays:

Geomagnetic Field:
From n3kl.org
Last updated January 2, 2007