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1665 Posthumous publication of the

discovery of light diffraction by Bolognese

Gesuit F. M. Grimaldi (1613-1663)

1667 First hypothesis on the wavelike

nature of light by R. Hooke

1675 Corpuscular theory of lightformulated

by I. Newton. Actually Newton’s theory’s
scope is more wide and contains also
wavelike elements, since the light
corpuscles are assumed to induce
vibrations in the bodies. The author is
aware of the results of Grimaldi’s
experiment, and of course he has himself
observed the Newton rings.

1690 Traité de la lumière by C. Huygens,

in which the wave theory of light is click on the image for details
developed. But let us remember that
Huygens waves do not correspond to
extended wave trains but to impulses.

1801 T. Young two-slit experiment, in

which we observe the interference pattern
originated by the light coming from two
slits, both being illuminated by the same

click on the image for details

1816-1819 A. Fresnel studies diffraction
phenomena and takes part in the
competition advertised by The Academy of
France. He successfully evidences the
presence of a light spot at the center of the
shadow of a circular screen, due to the
diffraction of the light wave, thus
convincing a skeptical S. D. Poisson, who
had proposed the test, and obtaining the
prize offered.

1862-1864 J. C. Maxwell formulates

the electromagnetic theory of light,
according to which light consists of
transversal vibrations of the same medium
which originates electrical and magnetic

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1887 H. Hertz discovers the photoelectric

effect while experimenting, on the way
toward the verification of Maxwell’
electromagnetic theory.

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1895 W. C. Röntgen discovers X-rays

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1897 G. G. Stokes hypothesizes that X-

rays might be elecromagnetic impulses
concentrated in time

1898-1903 J. J. Thomson accepts and

developes Stoke’s hypothesis.
1900 P. Villard discovers gamma-rays.

1899-1902 P. Lenard demonstrates that

the photoelectric effect is due to the
emission of electrons from the metal on
which the light impinges.

1905 A. Einstein introduces the hypothesis

that electromagnetic radiation is
constituted by discrete light quanta having
E = hv, and predicts the dependence of the
kinetic energy of the electrons emitted on
the frequency of the impinging radiation.

1909 G. I. Taylor observes an interference

pattern using a very weak beam of light
over a time of 2000 hours, in the attempt
to detect a “granular” structure of light,
according to the J. J. Thomson’s hypothesis
of impulses.

1912 W. Friedrich, P. Knipping and M.

Laue observe the diffraction of X rays by a
crystal , thus confirming their wavelike

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1914 E. Rutherford and E. N. da C.

Andrade observe the diffraction, effected
by a crystal, even of soft gamma rays.
1916 A. Einstein associates to the light
quantum a momentum hν/c.
1916 R. A. Millikan verifies the Einstein
equation for the photoelectrice effect (but
does not believe the theory of light

1921 M. De Broglie (brother of L. de

Broglie) verifies the Einstein equation for
the photoelectrice effect produced by X

1923 A. H. Compton interprets

the anelastic scattering of X rays in terms
of the Einstein theory of light quanta

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1925 Bothe e Geiger demostrate the time

coincidence between the emission of the
photon scattered by the Compton effect
and the recoil electron. Compton and
Simon utilizing the cloud chamber observe
that the trace of the recoil electron and
that of the secondary electron produced
occasionally by the scattered photon are in
agreement with the principle of energy
conservation and of momentum
conservation. At this point the Einstein
theory of light quanta is at long last
accepted by most physicists.

1927 A. J. Dempster and H. F. Batho

observe interference patterns produced on
visible light by means of a diffraction
grating when photons enter the system
one by one.

1958 L. Jánossy e Zs. Náray observe

interference patterns within a Michelson
interferometer where photons enter one by
one and each one is revealed by a

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1926 G. N. Lewis introduces the term

"photon" to designate the light quantum.