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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1answer
2k views

How far can the human eye see? Any ending point or infinite?

How far can the naked human eye see if unobstructed? (straight ahead on perfectly flat land). Is there a stopping point or is it infinite when you look in the sky? Is there any situation that the ...
0
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1answer
125 views

Depolarisation of Light in Optical Fibre

I have a question for which I can't seem to find a solid answer in literature and wondered if anyone could offer advice or reliable references please: How does light depolarise in ...
2
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2answers
93 views

Can contemporary technology simulate the spectrum of a star?

The ability to manipulate light spectra (as in mercury lamps, sodium lamps, infra red) is within the ambit of contemporary technology. Stars are said to be unique in the spectrum they emit ; ...
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5answers
765 views

Light-like Interval

In SR, the interval $I$ between two spacetime events is called light-like if $I=0$. Griffiths in his Introduction to Electrodynamics book says that [page 503], If $I=0$ we call the interval ...
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5answers
308 views

Can light travel slower than the maximum?

First of all, I know that light does indeed travel slower in a medium like air or water, but that's because the photons are bouncing off of the medium's particles and in different directions so the ...
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2answers
102 views

The speed of light through space and its effects on black holes

I was curious about a couple of things that don't quite make sense to me: (and probably won't when I get the technical answer, but I'll ask it anywise.) When light travels through space, is its ...
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1answer
292 views

Principle of relativity and motion perpendicular to the direction of light beam

consider you are in a train that moves with a speed of $c/4$. A bulb is hanged from the ceiling. A light beam leaves the bulb downward. Exactly under the bulb on the floor is a detector. According to ...
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2answers
646 views

Does thin film interference (anti-reflective coating) let more light through?

The theory of an anti-reflective coating is that the reflected light off the coating and the reflected light off the substrate is 180 degrees out of phase, causing destructive interference and ...
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1answer
691 views

Resonance Experiment

Today in high school physics class, we performed an experiment on the resonance of sound, with a set up like this... To put it simply, the sound waves are supposed to rebound with the surface of ...
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0answers
44 views

How does my screen look to a mantis shrimp? [duplicate]

As a human, I have one 3 color receptors that activate somewhere around the colors red, green, and blue. However, as this very cool infographic displays, a mantis shrimp has 16 different color ...
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2answers
253 views

Is the color wheel just an optical illusion? [duplicate]

As a kid, I was taught that that blue and yellow make green, yellow and red make orange, and red and blue make purple - forming the subtractive color wheel. As an adolescent I was taught that blue and ...
2
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2answers
353 views

Polar ice caps and thermal radiation

I was reading an article on global warming and it said that the polar ice caps, because they are white, reflect a lot of the sun's radiation. The article also has a picture of some houses in England ...
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1answer
78 views

Some sort of light reflection

One morning I woke up to a text message and picked up my phone but I was not yet fully awake and my eyes had not really gotten its focus. When I stared at the phone I saw two phones. Which is ...
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3answers
570 views

Why doesn't visible light generate sparks in aluminum foil when microwaves do?

When aluminum foil is placed in a microwave, I see sparks generated by what I assume is dielectric breakdown. However, if I put aluminum foil in visible light (assuming the same intensity), there are ...
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1answer
174 views

Does gravitational lensing violate Fermat's Principle that light must travel in straight lines?

Does bending of light due to warping of space violate Fermat's Principle or is it that in the principle light goes in a straight line with respect to space (taking space as the reference) and in ...
2
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2answers
259 views

Change of hue near shadows

My brother is an artist and he told me his paintings look more natural when he slightly change the hue (color) of the surface near the transition between shadow and light. Here's three examples: (1) ...
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5answers
1k views

Radio antenna producing waves in the visible spectrum

If a radio could produce waves in the visible light spectrum, what would the result be? This is a thought experiment that I've pondered for a few years now. I realize there are a few/many real-world ...
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3answers
380 views

How can sunlight be white , but pictures of the sun be orange?

I was thinking about elementary physics today and realised: We learned and proved that sunlight is white. But i don't understand why when you look at a picture of a satellite orbiting the sun , it(the ...
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1answer
1k views

Why do most metals appear silver in color with gold being an exception from a scattering and EM viewpoint?

Related: Why are most metals gray/silver? After reading Johannes’ impressive answer to Ali Abbasinasab question of why do most metals appear silver in color with the exception of gold (and copper), ...
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1answer
507 views

Huygens wave theory not applicable to lasers or parallel beams of light?

According to Huygens wave theory, every point on a wavefront acts as a secondary source of waves. Using this principle we can never have pretty narrow parallel beams of light right? Like lasers? ...
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2answers
238 views

How far can you scatter light using a prism?

If I were to scatter light how far do you think it will disperse and what prism is the most effectively scatters light?
4
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1answer
116 views

What is the intensity of this light?

I am struggling with a derivation that calculates the cross sections for Mie scattering and since the incident light is considered to be a x-polarized plane wave I thought that we would have $$I_i = ...
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1answer
294 views

Can light exist without spacetime?

Since the medium in which light propagates is spacetime, would light be able to exist if spacetime did not exist? Is this like one of those chicken/egg problems, or can light be thought of as a ...
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3answers
162 views

Why does increasing the flickering speed of a light have a dimming effect?

I'm setting up one of my first circuits. I have a knob to increase the flickering speed of a led. When I increase the flickering speed up to a certain point I am not able anymore to perceive it is ...
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3answers
236 views

Four questions on color

First, I apologize for being a mathematician and having no scientific background in physics. The following questions on color came up in a discussion at lunch and I would be very happy to get some ...
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3answers
571 views

Why does light diffract only through slits?

We can see diffraction of light if we allow light to pass through a slit, but why doesn't diffraction occur if we obstruct light using some other object, say a block? Why are shadows formed? Why ...
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2answers
389 views

What type of electromagnetic radiation strikes the Earth's surface the most?

If you can could you lists the types of light from the greatest amount to the least amount (Ex: Visible, Infrared, Violet).
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1answer
725 views

Why does a white object lit by a blue light cast an orange shadow?

I was reading this blog post: http://ianstormtaylor.com/design-tip-never-use-black/ Which phenomenon explains this: But I must have been thinking the same thing, because one of those days in art ...
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2answers
143 views

Colors of light

White light is always said to contain all the different wavelengths of light. Why, then, can we 'make' new colors simply by adding wavelengths? Is it just a matter of our perception, that, when two ...
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0answers
58 views

Why stars twinkle but planets don't? [duplicate]

I am not from a physics background. I came to know this while studying probability? Is this because the planets are nearer than the stars so we get average behaviour rather than random. Is law of ...
5
votes
1answer
388 views

Why does the visible light spectrum appear to be circular [duplicate]

I'm not sure if this is an acceptable place to ask this question, as it may have more to do with the biological workings of human eyes than with the physical properties of light, but I'd rather hear a ...
5
votes
1answer
626 views

Could an oscillator at a high enough frequency produce light instead of radio waves?

Considering that light is in the 400-800 THz range, if you had an electrical oscillator that ran at that frequency connected to an aerial of some sort, would the antenna emit visible light, in the ...
11
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1answer
402 views

Looking at an iPhone through a Polarizer

Maybe this is more of an Electrical Engineering question, but does anyone know why iPhones looking green/red through a linear polarizer? I find it strange that the light coming out would be ...
12
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4answers
797 views

How does interference move energy from destructive to constructive regions?

I recently read (sorry but I don’t have a reference) that interference is not only about destructive and constructive interference but moving energy from destructive to constructive regions according ...
3
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2answers
742 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 ...
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0answers
65 views

Is there spatial data loss in light passing through transparent crystal?

There is perfect parallelepipedal bar made of transparent crystal with cubic lattice floating in vacuum. Faces of parallelepiped are parallel to lattice axis. There is image, forming checkerboard ...
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2answers
2k views

Why is getting a tan in the evening less likely than getting a tan in the morning?

When I was young I read one book in which is written that you get more tan on the morning than on evening even light angle from Sun to Earth is the same. Don't remember exact reason, I think because ...
2
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1answer
317 views

Refraction of light in water

Here's a question in a paper based on refraction of light. I can't seem to solve it for some reason. A man looks down at a fish length of 20 cm. His eye is 2m above the surface of the water ...
51
votes
6answers
10k views

Why are most metals gray/silver?

Why do most metals (iron, tin, aluminum, lead, zinc, tungsten, nickel, etc.) appear silver or gray in color? (What atomic characteristics determine the color?) What makes copper and gold have ...
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3answers
269 views

Can visible light be emitted from a non-thermal source?

I was reading about thermal and non-thermal radiation and I was wondering if visible light can be emitted from a non-thermal source?
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2answers
1k views

Slowing down light in an opaque crystal for a whole minute

I just read about a team of physicists at the University of Darmstadt, Germany, that managed to completely slow down a beam of light that traveled through an opaque crystal (article here). How is it ...
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2answers
918 views

Why is glass much more transparent than water?

There is a related question (Why glass is transparent?) but I am coming at it only from Maxwell's equations. One can determine the skin depth $δ$ for poor conductors like (pure) water and glass using ...
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0answers
86 views

Collimating and homogenizing a divergent tunable-spectrum light source

I have a light source (Xenon lamp) which has the possibility to be tuned over spectral range of 390 - 740 nm with 1 nm spectral accuracy . Bandwidth at each wavelength is about 20 nm . Output ...
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1answer
230 views

how can u split the Photon? [closed]

If any equations are there ,for split the light particle, means that i have a 1m length of light just consider that in that who can i split the light particle into 1/2 m length Pls tell
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1answer
201 views

how can u control the speed of light? [closed]

Light traveling in a lake goes at 3 km/sec. Please tell me how to limit the speed in the medium (in this case the the lake).
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2answers
442 views

Diffraction and waves

Sorry about my poorly worded question as i'm not to good at explaining but bare with me so here i go. Does sound come as straight lines like ||||| and become diffracted into curves when it passes ...
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1answer
2k views

Star visibility in outer space even during the day?

Say I am in a space shuttle and have reached outer space. Is it true that during the day it possible to see stars outside through the window? Do I have to wait until night? Why is this the case?
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1answer
175 views

The Movement of Light

I've asked several other questions like this, and I know it's a dumb question but I really can't understand. When light is emitted from a moving source, it still moves straight in that source's frame. ...
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1answer
211 views

Scanning electron microscope imaging

In a scanning electron microscopy, secondary electrons are defined as the electrons which obey inelastic scattering whereas backscattering electron follow elastic scattering. Now my question ...
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2answers
159 views

Is it possible for a photon to be at rest? [duplicate]

I know it doesn't really make sense if looking at the photon from the wave point of view, but is there any law of physics which prohibits a photon from stopping completely? Thanks.