Questions related to the perception and measurement of light (primarily in the visible range), its mathematical description, the reproduction of colors by different means, color combinations, etc. Please use the tag [electromagnetic-radiation] if you want to refer to the general form of light.

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Making fire using a filled water bottle

I have seen videos where a fire was started using a water bottle filled with water. I guess the bottle acts like a convex lens that converges light to a focal point to start a fire. But why does water ...
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0answers
33 views

A very confusing question about retaining light and using it as propulsion… [on hold]

I'm gonna get things wrong, probably... but I have a question. If I encapsulate an aerogel with a powerful photophor without photons escaping or dissipating, (here is where it gets confusing.) Will I ...
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0answers
31 views

How does light travel at the speed of light? [duplicate]

If it is impossible for matter to accelerate to $c$ (because doing so would take infinite energy), and if light can be deemed matter (because of wave-particle duality, photons are matter, right? And ...
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1answer
33 views

Can a single photon be polarized non-linearly?

I want to check if I correctly understand polarization. Considering a single photon travelling in vacuum, it can only be polarized linearly under the same direction at any time, right? When we talk ...
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2answers
34 views

Resolution of the Eye-Light Rays and Diffraction

Please look at the problem. The problem is solved for me. However, I don't understand why the angle alpha is considered to stay constant when the rays go through the lens. The ray along the distance s ...
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2answers
59 views

Why slightly closing your eyes let you see the rainbow colors?

So I was sitting and looked at a street lamp outside my house. It is an ordinary lamp that looks something like that: This lamp emits white light and it is about 20 meters from my house. It was ...
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4answers
68 views

Why wire filament shakes inside a light bulb?

My light bulb cast a clear light toward adjacent wall and I can clearly see, that wire filament inside bulb shakes, though lamp itself does not moves even an inch What is causing this? Is it a ...
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0answers
43 views

Deformation of light-cone

In the paper The geometry of free fall and light propagation by Ehlers and his colleagues (Gen. Relativ. Gravit. 44 no. 6, pp. 1587–1609 (2012)), when the authors introduce the differentiable ...
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1answer
41 views

Why do we observe opposite motion of trees (nearer) and trees (distant) when seen from a moving frame? [duplicate]

If you are in a moving train or in a bus, what you observe is that the trees which are nearer to you move opposite to the direction of your motion. But the trees which are very far away from you, ...
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6answers
6k views

Can you run away from your shadow?

Now this might be a silly question but it's actually bugging me, this one might be easier to understand if you have kids that watch (or used to watch) Peppa Pig. In one of the episodes, about shadows, ...
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2answers
124 views

Which of these theories on why light slows in media are true?

This question is similar to previously asked questions, but the responses to them are confusing and I think it may be better covered by listing out all the potential answers for clarity. It's a ...
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2answers
99 views

Why does the sky suddenly look gray through this window?

I am looking to the windowed roof of my building, and I notice that the sky, which has few white clouds, sometimes looks completely gray, as if there was a huge cover of gray clouds, but there are ...
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1answer
22 views

Dissipating light pollution

If all the lights in a city, and the area surrounding it were shut off. How long would it take for the light pollution to clear, so the light from stars could be seen?
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0answers
31 views

Is there any acceleration of light? [duplicate]

I find it hard to believe that photons always travel with 3 x 10^8 m/s just from the start. But there must be some acceleration of light. Maybe huge or taking place in picoseconds. So what maybe the ...
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3answers
198 views

Light has a wave particle duality, how do we know?

I've been told my whole life that light is either a wave or a particle. When it's traveling through space, it's a wave. When it hits a wall, or a photo-sensitive chemical strip or something similar, ...
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3answers
639 views

Why can't light penetrate solid objects?

Light is combination of perpendicular electric and magnetic fields, since electric fields penetrate a conductor, why can't light travel in them? I think my argument does sound stupid, but I can't ...
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1answer
48 views

Redshift of a reflected photon from a solar sail

Can someone help me understand my mistake here? I'm thinking of a photon travelling with momentum $p=h/\lambda$ which reflects off a solar sail of mass $m$ travelling with momentum $p_0$ in the same ...
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1answer
16 views

Relation between intensity of light and refractive index

The intensity of light (as calculated from time average of the poynting vector) is given by $I = (1/2) \epsilon v E_0^2$. Here the intensity is dependent on the velocity of light in the medium. The ...
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2answers
31 views

What are the analogies between pitch and color? [closed]

I suppose there are some similarities to be made, what with sound vs light waves and I further suppose that lots of other people have thought of this before. When did these similarities (whatever they ...
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1answer
44 views

What is the physical structure of light?

Conceptually, I understand what light is, but I don't know what a photon would "look like" if it could be frozen in space/time. For instance, the notion of amplitude seems to be absent when discussing ...
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1answer
76 views

Does the formula $ \theta = \frac{v}{c} $ to find out deflection of light make sense?

I read in reliable sites that GR and classical physics calculate the angle of deflection in the same manner. The formula is almost identical: $$\theta = \frac{4GM}{c^2*r} \rightarrow \frac{4GM}{c*r} = ...
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2answers
3k views

Why is the sun brighter in Australia compared to parts of Asia?

Background: I've lived in Philippines for several years, and visited other parts of Asia occasionally (Singapore, Indonesia, Hongkong). I just moved to Western Australia a few months ago and I ...
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1answer
26 views

Optical fibre modes and intensity pattern

I shine laser line in front of one side of multimode optical fibre.Light coming out of other side is projected into wall.Whether the intensity pattern seen on wall is same as the mode of propagation ...
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0answers
30 views

Cause and properties of northern lights [duplicate]

If outside on a dark night in the middle to high latitudes, one might be able to see an aurora. It may be several hundred kilometers high and several thousand kilometers long, stretching around Earth ...
2
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2answers
97 views

How can heat turn into light

I am confused about how hot surfaces can radiate light to their surroundings. When I shine a light on a surface the light turns to heat spontaneously, and when I leave that hot surface it radiates ...
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1answer
44 views

Is this “cloaking in time” serious and what is really meant?

I just found this news article: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v481/n7379/full/nature10695.html What did those researchers actually do? The article itself doesn't sound to me like it can be ...
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3answers
104 views

How to generate Red light from a Blue-Dominated Spectrum [closed]

I have a white LED light source, the spectrum of which looks as follows --- I want to filter out red light from this white LED source. But as you can see the spectrum dwindles in the red zone. And ...
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4answers
3k views

How much red, blue and green does white light have?

Different kinds of white light have a different spectrum. Light from a white LED will have blue at the peak intensity while white light from a CFL or something else will have a different looking ...
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3answers
53 views

Double rainbows

In my garden, when I'm watering the plants I sometimes see a rainbow or two. How did two rainbows appear? Why can't I see three rainbows then, or how can I see three rainbows?
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0answers
21 views

Quantum Efficiency Estimation

Might there be a way to do a rough estimate of the quantum efficiency of a photo-detector like a CCD or CMOS sensor based only on a picture taken with it? I've read papers and guides (like this one: ...
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2answers
58 views

Where does wave frequency come from

I am trying to wrap my head around where do oscillations in electromagnetic waves come from. As an example if I would take a string of guitar and ring it, it would produce a certain sound based on the ...
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2answers
108 views

How can space be euclidean when light bends?

I have read people arguing that tridimensional space sections of space time continuum (whatever its number of dimensions) appears to be euclidean from empirical evidence. I cannot reconcile it with my ...
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2answers
89 views

Is there a substance that doesn't reflect OR absorb light from the visible light spectrum?

Is there a substance that doesn't reflect or absorb visible light but may reflect light from another spectrum? Is there a theoretical substance that would have these properties? EDIT: Sorry I wasn't ...
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1answer
32 views

Single slit diffraction pattern in 2D

I was looking at previous exams and I saw a question with single slit diffraction. Please look at picture on the website: http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?p=4807732#post4807732 So, this ...
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1answer
65 views

Is that a result of thin-film interference?

Several years ago, I was laying on my bed and had a CD shaped transparent plastic disk (which was covering a 100 CD stack), basically a transparent CD. I don't know why but I took my phone and took a ...
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5answers
52 views

Is the plasma state always visible?

All the examples of plasma I have come across are visible. Is there any plasma which is not visible? For example, during a dark lightening we don't see the radiation because its gamma radiation. Is ...
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2answers
91 views

Physical reason why (hot) objects glow? [duplicate]

Every object at a non-zero temperature radiates light, i.e. it glows. (Is that called blackbody radiation?) What is the physical reason to this? Is it because more heat implies that the atoms ...
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4answers
1k views

Is the frequency of light restricted?

What are the factors that limit the frequency of light? Can it have wavelengths ranging between zero and infinity?
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1answer
25 views

Color in Different media

When a light wave passes from one medium to other, the wavelength of the light wave changes and the frequency remains constant. If then color of the light waves depends on changing wavelength or ...
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1answer
86 views

Why do objects of a given color appear white under light of that color?

Under light from the sun, a red object will scatter the red component of light, and absorb all others. Hence, the human eye perceives it as "red". White objects scatter all wavelengths of light. ...
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2answers
40 views

Faraday Effect does light bend or lose energy?

I was reading upon Faraday effect when it said Faraday effect causes a rotation of the plane of polarization That in mind, does this mean the light can be bent around or does the light loose ...
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1answer
87 views

If I'm running away from chasing gamma photons, I can see them, right?

Suppose Bruce Banner goes back in time, convinced that the Hulk is a stupid menace. Let's say he also borrows Quicksilver's speed abilities (maybe the Flash is more appropriate, but based on the ...
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1answer
22 views

Do the characteristic vibrational modes of a material define how much will a material heat up upon radiation excitation?

Do, and if yes how, does the intensity and energy of the Raman modes of a material make it to heat more by radiation excitation. I see phonons and vibrations of the lattice as heat, but maybe I'm ...
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0answers
49 views

Mathematical formalism to include wave and particle perspectives of light

Does the exist any mathematical formalism (model) describing the behavior of light and incorporating its particle character (divisibility, quantization) and wave character? (i.e. quantized wave model) ...
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3answers
92 views

Can light be trapped theoretically?

My question is a little silly I know, but I'm curious to know if a particle of light can be theoretically trapped between two reflective screens. For example once the particle of light has left it's ...
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2answers
482 views

Why are most accurate reflective surfaces not white?

Since white is our perception of reflection of light, why are mirrors and other metallic objects that are more grey or silvery capable more reflective than a white object? This is somewhat related: ...
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2answers
114 views

Do the laws of physics that apply to all observers also apply to a non-observer? [closed]

The Timelessness of a photon https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ELA3ReWQJY An observer's laws of physics are time based. "When you're traveling at the speed of light, time does not exist" - Neil ...
3
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3answers
62 views

Unpolarized Light

Suppose I had a ray of unpolarized light, and I was sitting inside the beam and looking at the electric fields oscillating, then , if I am looking at a point how would the oscillations look like? I ...
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5answers
2k views

Why isn't the sunset/sunrise rainbow-colored

When the sun is rising/setting, it goes through a phase where the light is bending from the atmosphere. I believe this image will explain much better than I ever could. Now, if light goes through ...
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2answers
45 views

Is the gradual progression of day(light) into night a clue that the earth is a sphere?

If the earth was flat, would the transition between day and night be sudden?