Why Study Spectra?
Spectra have many uses, including:
- They are useful for analyzing what elements and compounds are present, not just in samples on Earth but also in starlight, nebulae, other planets' atmospheres, etc - in fact, even certain medical instruments use spectroscopy;
- They are useful for designing new types of lamps that produce light with whatever properties are desired, for general lighting and for specific applications;
- They offer insight into the behavior of electrons in atoms and molecules, which helps to understand such things as why copper is red, why gold is almost inert, why mercury is liquid, why carbon forms complex molecules, and why certain substances glow in the dark, among many other properties of materials;
- Spectra are caused by energy levels, and understanding energy levels allows novel uses of materials, such as the helium-neon laser where energy is transfered between atoms for maximum efficiency;
- Spectroscopy and energy level science will likely lead to more technological advances that we can't yet imagine;
- Predicting spectra means also being able to predict the physical and chemical properties of elements that have not yet been discovered, or have not been made in sufficient quantity to experiment with;
- Spectra are bright and colorful and fun to look at. Okay, this one sounds frivolous and not utilitarian, but I do think the "broken rainbows", unique to each element, are beautiful and underrated.