From PhilPapers forum Philosophy of Physical Science:

2016-12-18
The Michelson Myth
To See the Light
How come we see a light even when there is darkness between us and the light?
Maybe that photography can help us out again. You can take a picture of the end of a tunnel and make sure only a white spot can be seen in a sea of black. What is interesting is that the white will be totally isolated and we have therefore apparently no way of explaining how it could activate the emulsion on one part of the negative without affecting the rest.
If you think in terms of lenses and lines, then the lines which brought the light to the middle of the negative apparently never cut the same plane as the other lines. It is like the negative was laid flat, and the light was dropped from above. But even then, to have such a pristine black surrounding the bright spot is only possible if the light only appeared at the last moment, when it was already at its final destination. For this to be possible can mean only one thing: whatever caused the light to travel to the negative, or to our eyes, was not strong enough to light up the space in between. It seems that light not only disappears in vacuum, but also in the normal atmosphere.
Of course we already knew that. It is the rule of the inverse square law of distance. What nobody, I think, ever realized before, is what it meant exactly. Our eyes, and photographic films, are sensitive enough to react to a stimulus which leaves matter apparently undisturbed.
That raises a very interesting question: is it possible for light, in whatever form, to have an effect on matter without us seeing how it happened, or which path the light took? More to the point at hand, is it possible that a sensitive screen shows fringes while we have no idea how they got there?
I certainly would not advocate such a spooky explanation, but it is no doubt worth investigating.


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