Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

This is related to my previous Phys.SE question on the derivation of the phase function - upon sifting and scanning through 600 pages of John Strutt's collected work, there is absolutely no mention of Rayleigh's phase function (related to Rayleigh scattering) quoted by a million other sources with no derivation or justification.

Rayleigh's scientific papers (1899.) @

I know it is some sort of godforsaken approximation for which nobody on the Web has a justification or derivation for and it's really bothering me. I have no problem with empirical data reconstruction, but I want to see this "empirical data" which everyone just throws around.

Why do people say something is "defined". Nothing in physics is defined, it's not a recipe for an exotic top-of-the-head meal, throw three cosines, five g and you're there. It has to be constrained by nature in some way.

Please, assist!

share|cite|improve this question

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.