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Proceedings Paper

Role of the retinal detector array in perceiving the superposition effects of light
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Paper Abstract

The perception of light in nature comes through the photopigment molecules of our retina. The objective of this paper is to relate our modern understanding of the quantum mechanical chemical processes in the retinal molecules with our observation of superposition ("interference") fringes due to multiple light beams. The issue of "interference" is important for two subtle reasons. First, we do not perceive light except though the response of the light detecting molecules. Second, EM fields do not operate on each other to create the "interference" (superposition) effects. When the intrinsic molecular properties of a detector allows it to respond simultaneously to all the superposed light beams on them, they sum the effects and report the corresponding "fringes" of superposition. In the human eye the "seeing" (or perception) is initiated by photo-isomerization of retinal, the chromophore of the opsin molecule. There exists several orders of magnitude difference between the characteristic times for the molecular processes of light absorption and the visual signal generation through the photochemical cascade. This allows us to function in the daily chores of walking and visual identification of objects and enjoy the beauty of the natural sceneries even though the retinal layer is bombarded simultaneously by innumerable beams of light with same and different frequencies, which will normally produce a flood of electronic "white noise" over a very wide range of temporal frequencies, namely the heterodyne beat signal. How do the eyes completely suppress this wide range of heterodyne beat signal?

Paper Details

Date Published: 14 August 2006
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 6285, The Nature of Light: Light in Nature, 628507 (14 August 2006); doi: 10.1117/12.683112
Show Author Affiliations
Chandrasekhar Roychoudhuri, Univ. of Connecticut (United States)
Vasudevan Lakshminarayanan, Univ. Waterloo (Canada)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6285:
The Nature of Light: Light in Nature
Katherine Creath, Editor(s)

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