Thought I'd put this out there as I can't quite figure it out. So when you have two periodic waves of different frequencies and you add them, you get some sort of resulting wave, which can be simple or complex based upon the difference of frequencies and/or phases. And when you play these back as audio, you can hear each tone in the mixture, plus if they're close enough, some difference tones or beating. Good so far.
So what I'm wondering is how light waves behave in relation to this. The visible spectrum is approx. 400 to 700 nanometers, give or take, so that's less than one "octave" of range in frequencies. I'm imagining creating a certain specific frequency, say 700 for a deep red, and mixing that with another, say 530 for a bright green like those cool lasers (great if you shine them off crinkly mylar by the way, hehe). For simplicity's sake, assume these sources are ideal, that is, like a laser where all wavelengths are the same and in phase.
Anyway, do these wavelengths "mix" or "add" in the same way as the sound wavelengths? I know they will generate another color, but would it essentially be another pure wave, or would it have the characteristically "bumpy" look that you get when mixing two frequencies? What about very close ones that create low-frequency beating, even if the main frequencies are very high? And if they do in fact have this "bumpy" look, then the next question is, Can one create arbitrarily complex periodic waves and turn them into light, or do some kind of simulation of this in Max?
It seems like there's so many timbres possible with mixing different frequencies of sound, I'm wondering where there are parallels with light and where the parallels break down.
Here's a simple waveform pic with 2 cycles on the left, 3 on the right, and the middle is the sum (scaled down to fit). If this were scaled to similar-ratio light-wave frequencies and again added, what would the resulting color be?
I look forward to any and all thoughts on this!