Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Your Shadow: A Trick of Light?

The baffling mystery of the shadow may finally have it's explanation. For countless centuries scientists have puzzled over the question, "what is the dark blob that follows an object at rest, or while in motion?" Primitive cultures believed it to be a spirit guide or an ancestor that remains attached to you at all times, though not always visible. Others believed it was a malevolent ghost waiting for its caster to falter morally, so it could attack.

Though the shadow received its name hundreds of years ago, no one has put forth a reasonable explanation for the phenomenon...until now. Scientists believe a shadow is created when an object blocks a light source, like the sun or a tanning lamp. The light strikes the object, and light particles are prevented from moving past the blockage, leaving a silhouette behind the volume, whatever it may be. Transparent objects like windows or bottles do leave a silhouette, but it's much lighter than one cast by something with a non-translucent mass, and this isn't quite as clear to the scientific world. Dr. Taylor Waters, of the Lomas Regional Institute of Technology and Science, believes he is very close to explaining the transparency problem. "My team has made significant strides when it comes to the lighter shadow phenomenon, and I believe we'll have an answer within the next three to five years," says Dr. Waters.

The shadow mystery has many layers, such as; why does the shadow appear as an outline of the mass that forms it? Why are there no details from the mass visible, like a tie or glasses? Is the shadow two or three dimensional? Does the shadow have weight or texture? What is the shadow's purpose? And the most bewildering question of them all; why, most of the time, does the shadow look elongated or distorted in some cases, or squashed and compact in others?

Also, there a some fringe scientists who believe there exists something called "the Shadow Lag." They believe when a mass casting a shadow moves, there is a half second delay as the shadow follows. Most scientists find this insignificant and have abandoned research of the subject altogether.

Though the scientific community has figured out why the shadow exists, there are many unanswered questions remaining. I, for one, look forward to the exciting new breakthroughs still to come, and will be sure to relay that info to you a.s.a.p.