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23
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5answers
28k views

Phase shift of 180 degrees on reflection from optically denser medium

Can anyone please provide an intuitive explanation of why phase shift of 180 degrees occurs in the Electric Field of a EM wave,when reflected from an optically denser medium? I tried searching for it ...
25
votes
2answers
5k views

How are classical optics phenomena explained in QED (Snell's law)?

How is the following classical optics phenomenon explained in quantum electrodynamics? Reflection and Refraction Are they simply due to photons being absorbed and re-emitted? How do we get to ...
233
votes
21answers
81k views

A mirror flips left and right, but not up and down

Why is it that when you look in the mirror left and right directions appear flipped, but not the up and down?
7
votes
5answers
3k views

Explain reflection laws at the atomic level

The "equal angles" law of refection on a flat mirror is a macroscopic phenomenon. To put it in anthropomorphic terms, how do individual photons know the orientation of the mirror so as to bounce off ...
5
votes
1answer
1k views

Laser, wire, and a circle of light

So, when I point a laser at a piece of wire (pointed at a specific angle), a circle of light appears on a wall behind it (see image below). I am trying to see why this happens and if there are any ...
7
votes
2answers
3k views

How do mirrors work?

My physics professor explained to me that electromagnetic waves are consisted of two components - electric and magnetic - which cause each other. Which part of the mirror actually reflects the wave? ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

How does a one-sided glass work?

How does a one-sided glass work? If seen from the outer side, we can see through thinking it is transparent, while if seen from the inside, the glass acts as a mirror. How?
20
votes
1answer
5k views

How are photons “consumed”?

I have very little background in physics, so I apologize if this question is painfully naive. Consider the following thought experiment: an observer is in a closed room whose walls, floor, and ...
13
votes
5answers
793 views

What longest time ever was achieved at holding light in a closed volume?

For what longest possible time it was possible to hold light in a closed volume with mirrored walls? I would be most interested for results with empty volume but results with solid-state volume may ...
12
votes
1answer
2k views

Would the inside of a black hole be like a giant mirror?

As any light reflected or emitted from objects inside a black hole (if it is possible to be there) does not leave the event horizon and comes back inside, would it be like seeing yourself? What I ...
13
votes
4answers
6k views

What happens when a photon hits a mirror?

When a photon of light hits a mirror does the exact same photon of light bounce back or is it absorbed then one with the same properties emitted? If the same one is bounced back does it's velocity ...
7
votes
5answers
4k views

What happens to light in a perfect reflective sphere?

Let's say you have the ability to shine some light into a perfectly round sphere and the sphere's interior surface was perfectly smooth and reflective and there was no way for the light to escape. If ...
3
votes
1answer
3k views

Can you see yourself in a mirror when you are riding on top of a light stream? [closed]

What happens if you would ride on top of a light stream and you would look into a mirror that is in front of you, could you actually see your own face? I am asking this because I heard that nothing ...
31
votes
7answers
15k views

What is the difference between a white object and a mirror?

I was taught that something which reflects all the colors of light is white. The function of a mirror is the same, it also reflects all light. What's the difference? Update: But what if the white ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

The Goos Hanchen shift mechanism

When the light is totally reflected in the interface between dense and less-dense medium, we know that the reflected beam will shift a little. Currently I have known the reflection coef r, will be a ...
2
votes
4answers
4k views

Does light accelerate or slow down during reflection?

After all, it does change direction when reflection occurs. So shouldn't it also accelerate? And since the acceleration cannot increase the speed of light, mustn't it slow down?
22
votes
3answers
3k views

Why is the light reflected at the same angle from mirror?

From the school physics I know that the material objects bounce from the plane surface at the same angle, losing some kinetic energy. In the same school I was taught that the light (and waves in ...
17
votes
5answers
2k views

Why is the surface of the Moon white?

Why is the surface of the Moon white? Rather, what makes the surface white?
14
votes
4answers
2k views

Is there a limit to the resolving power of a mirror telescope?

Like, if you hammered out the asteroid 16 Psyche into a 1 mm thick iron foil disc telescope mirror with 2.4x the radius of the Sun, could you resolve details on the surface of an exoplanet? At what ...
11
votes
2answers
6k views

How does reflection work?

In Newton's model of light as being composed of particles, it's easy to imagine reflection as being the rebounding of individual corpuscles off a surface. However, since light can also behave like a ...
10
votes
1answer
13k views

Two mirrors facing each other

What happens when you place two mirrors facing each other? Is it possible to have an infinite amount of reflections?
51
votes
1answer
16k views

Why does a window become a mirror at night?

In day, when you look in the room through the window out, you can clearly see what happens outside. At night when it's dark outside but there's light inside you can look in the window but it becomes a ...
14
votes
3answers
3k views

Is true black possible?

Black is the absence of light because it absorbs light, but when we create black paint or black objects, light is always reflected, either in all directions in matte or smoothly in shiny black ...
6
votes
5answers
481 views

Trapping a lightray

Given a solid whose interior is a hollow sphere with perfectly reflecting mirrors. A small hole is drilled in the sphere and a photon is sent in at some angle. Will it always eventually exit through ...
12
votes
2answers
1k views

Why does sunset over a body of water cause a path of light stretching towards the horizon?

Have you ever notice the sunset's image in the sea? It's like long light path to the end of the horizon! I've attached a sample of this: How can we explain this? I know that it can happen even in ...
1
vote
2answers
885 views

What temperature is achieved in focus point by 5000 flat 1x1cm mirrors onto a satellite dish?

There is this video ("R5800 Solar Death Ray") where teenager built a 5000 mirror device which concetrates the solar rays which is showing the potency of the mosaic method of concentrating sunlight ...
3
votes
4answers
58k views

Why do diamonds shine?

I have always wondered why diamonds shine. Can anyone tell me why?
2
votes
3answers
271 views

What makes a rainbow happen?

A rainbow is formed when a raindrop refracts light, but why then does the whole sky not become a huge rainbow when it rains? Would the light not be dispersed into ordinary white light? What causes it ...
15
votes
1answer
916 views

Why is everything not transparent? [duplicate]

There is a related question on this site here: Why glass is transparent? Which explains that glass is transparent because the atoms in glass have very large energy differences between energy levels ...
12
votes
6answers
4k views

How come an anti-reflective coating makes glass *more* transparent?

The book I'm reading about optics says that an anti-reflective film applied on glass* makes the glass more transparent, because the air→film and film→glass reflected waves (originated from a paraxial ...
6
votes
1answer
246 views

Reflectivity of a glowing-hot metal surface

When a polished piece of metal (or steel in particular) is heated to incandescence, how do its reflective properties change? Given a mirror-like surface, would the object temporarily cease to act ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

During reflection does the emitted photon have same properties?

When light (photon) is reflected the the original photon is absorbed by an electron and then emitted again. Does this "new" photon have the same wavelength, frequency etc. as the original?
3
votes
2answers
331 views

Principle of Reflection on atomic level

The well observed phenomenon has besides several others has always been a fascination to me, we are well aware of several theories, experiments and practical applications of the well known phenomenon. ...
5
votes
4answers
962 views

Wave reflection and open end boundary condition intuition

I need to understand one seemingly simple thing in wave mechanics, so any help is much appreciated! When a pulse on a string travels to the right toward an open end(like a massless ring that is free ...
2
votes
6answers
8k views

Reflection At Speed of Light

I have looked online to no avail. There is two competing answers and I am curious to know which one is right. Someone asked me this question. If you are traveling at the speed of light can you see ...
6
votes
1answer
3k views

What IS reflection?

How does quantum electrodynamics actually explain HOW reflection occurs on a microscopic scale? Note that Feynman's QED lecture series/book is not sufficient, as he only assumes that light DOES ...
10
votes
3answers
15k views

What is the color of a mirror?

A mirror couldn't be white, as then you wouldn't be able to see your reflection so clearly. It wouldn't be transparent, as that then won't reflect. So what color is it?
8
votes
3answers
9k views

Why does your reflection stay the same size when you move further away from the mirror?

This was an experiment I saw in my son's workbook. It said to mark out the top of your forehead and the bottom of your chin on a mirror using a whiteboard marker. Then slowly move backwards, and ...
2
votes
2answers
139 views

Why is rainbow always circular?

From the article that I read on physics classroom website on rainbow, rainbow is formed with red on the top and violet on the bottom because violet refracts more, and has a smaller angle of deviation ...
2
votes
2answers
2k views

Circularly polarized light incident at Brewster's Angle

If a perfectly circularly polarized wave of light is incident on a dielectric medium (coming from air) at Brewster's Angle, what will the polarization state of the transmitted wave be? I am aware ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

How can a green laser be reflected as orange?

My friend recently bought a high-powerd pocket laser pen (from China). It is green, and reflects off most surfaces as green. On some orange surfaces, it reflects orange instead. That is to say, we ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

Why does water reflect light?

Why does water reflect light? What is actually happening when light is reflected by water? We know why metals reflect light; water, however, is not metal, but it still reflects light and we can see ...
3
votes
1answer
382 views

computing wavefront deviations for off-axis mirrors

Suppose you have two off-axis aligned mirrors which are nearly planar, with small deformations such that a wavefront at plane $P_I$ at distance $-D$ from the mirrors, is refocused at distance $D$ at ...
1
vote
3answers
77 views

How does color (or reflection in general) work?

I'm confused, does the absorption and emission determine the color of something? Or does that only happen when something is emitting energy? When light hits an object, the photons get absorbed, then ...
1
vote
3answers
2k views

What color would you see if you place 2 mirrors in opposit when one is a one way mirror

What would you see if you have 2 huge mirrors (you cant look over it or next to it) You place them with the reflecting side to each other and you look in the mirror from behind one mirror (one way ...
0
votes
2answers
1k views

Reflection formula for spherical surface from Fermat's principle (Query)

The snip shows a part of the method shown by my teacher, to describe the reflection formula for spherical surface. However I do not understand how the relation of AB and BI (which I have ...
0
votes
2answers
4k views

reflection at speed of light when both mirror and viewer is travelling at the speed of light [duplicate]

consider me sitting on the top of a train which is travelling close to the speed of light, will I be able to see my image on a mirror which I'm holding in my hand??
0
votes
1answer
771 views

How are these balls reflected after they hit each other? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Physics of simple collisions I have 2 photos of the balls, one before the collision and one after the collision. They do a elastic collision. I want to know how is the ...
45
votes
2answers
6k views

Why are gold mirrors yellow?

Why are golden mirrors yellow? Do they add a yellow component to the spectrum or absorb non-yellow components? If they absorb, then why are they used in telescopes being imperfect? If they add a ...
28
votes
6answers
7k views

Why did high quality mirrors use aluminum coatings instead of silver?

I have two questions on mirrors. I’ve read that in the past quality mirrors were coated with silver but that today vacuum evaporated coatings of aluminum are the accepted standard. When I look at ...