The Science of Light

Ripples, Waves, and Radiant Truths

We cannot help but be fascinated, inspired, and moved by light. Whether we are trying to make sense of the rising and setting of the sun, the movements of celestial bodies, or how certain colours, reflections, and refractions invoke a sensory reaction in each of us, light is a phenomenon that never ceases to provoke wonder and curiosity. This quest to define light has sparked some of the finest minds of history, starting with the origins of optics in Euclid’s Ancient Greece, and running as a glowing and unbroken thread throughout the ages. The Enlightenment revelled in its findings revolving around light, the sun, and the stars, with Newton’s light particle theory coming up against Huygens and Young and their notions of light waves. Between them, the foundations for a modern understanding of this most essential of elements were formed, and our knowledge of light grew ever brighter, its mysteries brought further out from the shadows.


The 20th century was a period of feverish discovery in the realm of physics and optics, accelerated exponentially by the brilliance of Einstein. His ground-breaking theory of general relativity unleashed a Pandora’s box of realisations, transforming our notions of the nature of light and the fabric of the universe. Later came Stephen Hawking, who utilised an altogether more human approach to black holes, light singularities, and the wider universe; something which opened the eyes of the public and scientific community further than ever, transforming our understanding of light while catalysing research into this inexhaustive area of study.

The tireless work of these illuminated minds and their contemporaries achieved so much more than deepening our understanding of the nature of light. They showed us the furthest reaches of the void, expanded the horizons of our planet into deep space, and initiated our journey towards understanding the birth of our universe and our place within it. Through their knowledge of light, the way it moves and reacts, and how its purity contains spectrums travelling unimaginable distances, we have been able to see further than ever before.

Einstein may have been one of the brightest minds of history, yet he’d be the first to agree that his words were anything but irrefutable truths; merely an important step on the path towards provable fact. Recent years have seen even his most famous claims about the constant speed of light in a vacuum questioned and refuted. 2016 saw the rise of new theories, first suggested by Hawking, which claim that in the earliest moments after the big bang, the speed of light was both variable and infinite, conjuring up images of the entire universe being illuminated at all points at once; one glorious moment at which light, time, and gravity expanded in harmony. This in turn has catalysed further questions, further paradigms of understanding, and further ways to understand light and its mysteries anew.


As we move towards the third decade of the 21st century, the science of light shows no signs of slowing in its ferocity for understanding. The latest discoveries relating to light’s myriad properties have been as thrilling as they are brimming with potential, with physicists uncovering some of the more unexpected abilities.

Much of the most recent fervour in the world of physics and optics surrounds the discovery of orbital angular momentum, a term referring to the way light can be twisted into a spiral to form intense beams. These spiralling and rotating beams of light are, right now, being used to further an impressive range of technologies, from massively increasing the amount of data transmitted through fibre-optic cables, to increasing the potential of microscopy, and allowing for the manipulation of nanoparticles, quantum dots, and living cells.

Once it was recognised that the twisting of light into rotating beams was possible, it wasn’t long before scientists began searching for ways to speed up or slow down that rotation, in order to alter the ways such beams could be used. By creating light pulses in higher or lower frequencies, a phenomenon known as ‘self-torque’ can be generated, demonstrating that the behaviour of light in certain precise circumstances is far from constant, and the possibilities of this understanding are potentially limitless.

Photo Credit ©Michael Duva

For generations, physicists and light scientists of all backgrounds have spent lifetimes observing light, setting beams, waves, and particles against a series of challenges and through experiments designed to test reactions, and unpick its mysteries. Today’s scientists, however, strive to master light, to control its patterns and movements, and to use these centuries of knowledge in practical and potentially world-changing ways.

While orbital angular momentum uncovered the way light behaves in certain conditions, the past couple of years have seen the practical use of light beams leap forward, propelling the science of light into new realms of possibility. In 2017, scientists discovered how to manipulate light in new ways; sending light beams around corners, through circuit boards, and, more importantly, carrying data in complex pulses and flashes from device to device. Light is, therefore, poised to replace the electrical signal as a faster, more efficient, and more reliable method of communication.

Thanks to the advent of this marriage of light and data transmission, a new generation of possibilities will arise. Once we uncover more about how light can be controlled, manipulated, and put to use, there’s no telling of how far this new frontier may stretch, or how broad our technological horizons may reach. What began with gazing at the stars and pushing light through prisms, has brought about bold new futures; dazzling, enlightened, and illuminated.

The Science of Light at La Prairie

The science of light as defined by La Prairie seeks to understand the various factors that impede skin’s luminosity. In pursuing their research, the scientists at La Prairie asked themselves a simple, essential question: what if there were a way to decode skin’s luminosity? A new chapter in La Prairie’s heritage of bold scientific research has thus come to light.

Following years of research, La Prairie developed a full ritual that provides extraordinary illumination to the skin. White Caviar creations not only have never-before-seen results in diminishing chromatic disturbances in the skin, they also increase the reflection of light by perfectly smoothing skin’s surface and densifying the skin.

2020 introduces the latest innovation in the science of light at La Prairie. Indeed, due to the eye’s three-dimensional architecture, light in this area of the face not only depends on colour and reflection, but also on shape. Colour and reflection determine the quality and intensity of light as a function of skin conditions. Shape orchestrates the spatial distribution of intensities of reflected light, creating a pattern of contrasts between shadows and light.

White Caviar Eye Extraordinaire, infused with Golden Caviar Extract and enriched with breakthrough illuminating molecule Lumidose, addresses all chromatic disturbances while firming the skin, bringing an extraordinary luminosity to the eye.

White Caviar Eye Extraordinaire