Digitization of Signals Measured by Telescopes

Question:  I visited the VLA site west off Socorro N.M. yesterday mid-day.  Wonderful environment.  When reading about the electromagnetic energy wavelength spectrum and learning that most of the data you collect is digitalized, I thought of a question which I had seen discussed once before…do we think that the Universe is based on discreet digital structures or energies…and if so…that would lend more accuracy to the digitalization of data…but, what if there were some discreet packets of energy described by the electromagnetic spectrum that exist and propagate embedded in a more non-linear or elastic transitional environment? …is it possible that the very process of digitalization of data misses some potentially useful and important data that exists in these more non-linear transitional states…if that were to be the case?  — Russell

Answer: Two points to make regarding your question.  The first is that all “light”, or signals that telescopes, whether they be optical or radio telescopes, collect is quantized into packets called “photons”.  This is a fundamental property of light is called the “wave-particle duality” of light.  The second point to make is that all signals that telescopes collect are measured in such a way such that they are sampled in such a way to fully recover all of the information in the signal.  This means that we “read” the information in the signal so that we can fully recover all of the information it contains.  I hope that this answers your questions.

Jeff Mangum


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