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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6answers
3k views

Is it possible to witness a circular rainbow?

What conditions would make it possible to see a naturally occurring fully 360° circular rainbow? Would it even be possible?
3
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1answer
281 views

Was the choice of red/green colors for traffic lights a happy coincidence?

All of us have learned since secondary school that the reason we use red in the traffic lights for "Stop" is because it travels the furthest without dispersion. According to wikipedia which cites ...
3
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5answers
2k views

How many colors exist?

How many "colors" do exist? Our perception: As far as I know, colors are just different frequencies of light. According to wikipedia, we can see wavelengths from about 380 nm und 740 nm. This means ...
2
votes
6answers
4k views

Focal Point vs where you see the images

I am trying to figure out where is the focal point and where is the image. I read some information online about the point where you see the image is the focal point, but however, my supervisor ...
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1answer
75 views

How large of a solar sail would be needed to travel to mars in under a year?

I'm attempting to approach this using the identity $$F/A = I/c$$ I can solve for Area easily enough $$A = F(c/I)$$ and I know the distance $d$ is $$d=1/2(at^2)$$ But I'm having difficulty trying to ...
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2answers
191 views

Is a white object always white?

Is a object that’s white with the lights on, still white although it looks different under a different light or in total darkness?
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1answer
133 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
225 views

Does the Lorentz transformation not apply to light?

Since you would know that light always travels at the constant velocity with respect to all frame of reference ....according to relativity whenever we are traveling at speed of light our time with ...
15
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5answers
2k views

What do the colors in false color images represent?

Every kid who first looks into a telescope is shocked to see that everything's black and white. The pretty colors, like those in this picture of the Sleeping Beauty Galaxy (M64), are missing: The ...
14
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2answers
905 views

Has everything we see happened in the past?

Whatever we see is basically based on the light that hits our eyes, right? When we look at the Moon we are looking at the Moon as it was couple of seconds ago, as the light takes some seconds (~2 ...
9
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5answers
750 views

Superposition of electromagnetic waves

The superposition of two waves is given by $$\sin(\omega_1 t)+\sin(\omega_2 t)=2\cos\left(\frac{\omega_1-\omega_2}{2}t\right)\sin\left(\frac{\omega_1+\omega_2}{2}t\right).$$ For sound waves, this ...
7
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2answers
901 views

What does the sky look like to human eyes from orbit?

There are numerous pictures, obviously, of the blackness of space from the shuttle, the space station, and even the moon. But they all suffer from being from the perspective of a camera, which is not ...
6
votes
2answers
606 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 ...
6
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2answers
365 views

What is changing in latest light bulb technologies?

I'm confused with the latest home lightning bulbs. Understanding filament bulbs was easy. For example take 220V, 100W filament bulb: Power = $V^2/R$ Filament gets heated and emits energy in the form ...
5
votes
1answer
84 views

Predominant light frequency over the day?

I'm not well-versed in physics, so I hope you'll forgive me if this question is significantly off the mark. I'm interested in the predominant frequencies of light over the course of one day. My ...
5
votes
2answers
996 views

How photons represent colors that you see?

Right now, my understanding is that, a mixture of photons of many different frequencies is perceived as white by your eye. While no photons at all, is perceived as black. And photons with the blue ...
5
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1answer
171 views

What would a length contracted object look like?

I have multiple sub-questions but they are related. What would the object look like if in were passing by? What would a star look like if we were traveling near $c$? Would the perspective be a a ...
5
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3answers
4k views

What invisible flicker do different types of light bulbs have?

What waveform does the light coming off different types of artificial light sources have and (of course) what are the underlying physical reason for them? I was inspired to ask this question ...
4
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3answers
1k views

Is there something special in the visible part of electromagnetic spectrum?

I always wondered how much information we get from color. Things we see have different colors; edible products change color when began to spoil so we have a notion what color a fresh product should ...
4
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2answers
5k views

Why does earth look blue from outer space?

I know it's more than 70% water. But what has it got to do with earth's colour ?
4
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1answer
665 views

Visible light spectrum to color space

I need to be able to convert an arbitrary emission spectrum in the visible spectrum range (i.e. for every wavelength between 380 and 780, I have a number between 0 and 1 that represents the ...
3
votes
3answers
168 views

What electric field vector should I use for modeling unpolarized light?

Regardless of computational cost, light is a kind of electromagnetic wave, so it can be simulated with Maxwell's equations. If we want to simulate light with Maxwell's equations, we need to express ...
3
votes
4answers
2k views

Is it only red, green and blue that can make up any color through additive mixture?

I'm reading about color vision and have some trouble understanding the motivation for why the trichromatic theory was suggested in the first place. The book I'm reading ("Psychgology: The science of ...
3
votes
1answer
476 views

Formula for polarized “light” transmission through close filters?

I'm still trying to understand photons (or polarized electromagnetic radiation). This question is similar to one of my previous questions, but different: Consider the famous demonstration of crossed ...
3
votes
3answers
466 views

Does the wavelength always decrease in a medium?

I was studying a GRE Physics Test problem where optical light with a wavelength of 500 nm travels through a gas with refractive index $n$. If we look at the equations for wave motion and index ...
2
votes
2answers
71 views

Calculating the coherence length from a spectrum

I have measured the spectrum of the LED in my interferometry set-up, and now I want to calculate the coherence length from it. A commonly found formula is $l_{coh} = \frac{c}{\Delta f}$, sometimes ...
2
votes
1answer
89 views

Is there a one-to-one relationship between colour theories and our trichromatic vision?

This has started to bug me more and more… it involves: colour theory the trichromatic properties of our eyes through cone cells and light. Is there a one-to-one relationship between colour ...
2
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2answers
427 views

Electron model under Maxwell's theory

I was not able to recall my memories, so: What is the formula that states the frequency of electrons revolving around nucleus is equal to the frequency of light (or photon) emitted (or radiated)? (I ...
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6answers
4k views

Limit of human eye flicker perception?

I am designing a LED dimmer using software-controlled Pulse Width Modulation, and want to know the minimum PWM frequency that I must reach to make that LED dimming method indistinguishable from ...
2
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1answer
141 views

The range of light

It occurs to me that the empirical evidence shows that there is a point out in space where light stops coming from. Putting aside the expansion of the universe for a second, and focusing strictly on ...
2
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1answer
432 views

Snell's Law of Refraction

I was told that "Snell's law of refraction implies that a light ray in an isotropic medium travels from point a to point b in stationary time." Why is this true? Thanks.
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5answers
88 views

If you shoot a light beam behind the event horizon of a black hole, what happens to the light?

I have a couple of questions about light here, and sorry of they are silly.. So since anything that goes beyond the event horizon can't go out, so what if a light beam was pointed somewhere behind ...
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2answers
59 views

Does any material glow, under appropriate conditions?

Given a high enough temperature, or a high enough electrical field, can we make every material emit visible light?
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2answers
64 views

How far does a Photon's field Extend?

I read the related answer to whether photons have size, and the answer seemed to be it depends. If a Photon, or a rather an E&M wave has a magnetic and electric field, should things be able to ...
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2answers
164 views

Why are two independent sources incoherent?

Coherent sources are produced from a single parent source. But, why are two independent sources always incoherent? Two sources can produce light of the same frequency. Then, I guess the problem is ...
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0answers
64 views

How to get “massless” equation of motion from the action of Nordstrom scalar field theory?

There is Nordstrom theory of the particle moving in a scalar field $\varphi (x)$: $$ S = -m\int e^{\varphi (x)}\sqrt{\eta_{\alpha \beta}\frac{dx^{\alpha}}{d \lambda}\frac{dx^{\beta}}{d ...
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0answers
47 views

Is there any evidence that everyone sees colours the same way? [duplicate]

We all know that the sky is blue. Grass is green. Blood is red. But, how do we know that everyone sees these colours more or less the same? How does one know that my ...
1
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1answer
190 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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3answers
78 views

Trapping EM radiation [duplicate]

Is there a material which can allow light (or any other EM radiation) to pass through from one side as if it is transparent but its other side reflects light like a mirror?
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2answers
890 views

Reflectance vs. Thin Metal film Thickness Graph

Is there formula that gives reflectance of very thin film of given metal (tens of nanometers) to the visible light of given wavelength(808nm) ? Which properties of metals are needed for the formula ? ...
1
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1answer
294 views

How does a strobe lamp stop a fast moving object?

A strobe lamp can be used to seemingly stop a fast moving object when calibrated. Commonly used in quality assurance during production to inspect otherwise non-observable assembly line activity. What ...
1
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3answers
647 views

Conversion formula from spectrophotometer readings to any standard color space profile?

I have readings of colors from a spectrophotometer that records across the human visible color spectrum 390nm to 790nm intervals. I'd like to convert this into any color space, could be CIE XYZ, HSL, ...
0
votes
1answer
41 views

Can relativistic momentum (photons) be used as propulsion for 'free' after the initial generation?

In discussing this question about propelling a spacecraft with photons and their relativistic momentum, the author asked that I restate my comment as another question. If photons can really be used ...
0
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3answers
434 views

All objects radiate energy, but we cannot see all objects in the dark. Why?

We claim that all objects radiate energy by virtue of their temperature and yet we cannot see all objects in the dark. Why not?
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2answers
137 views

Does light have an unending journey?

When we shine a torch in a room its light travels to the back of the room. What happens to the light of a star ? I dont suppose we can say it continues to travel to the back of the universe as the ...
0
votes
1answer
200 views

Is there a way to see light frequencies invisible to the human eye without the use of electronic sensors?

I wonder if it's possible to be able to see light frequencies that cannot be normally seen by human eye, without using sensors designed specifically for detecting a certain spectrum range, but rather ...
0
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0answers
96 views

Determining Ether Drag - Aberration of Starlight

In order to determine the relative motion between the Earth and the ether (the medium through which light supposedly propagated. It has zero density and complete transparency), scientists used the ...
0
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1answer
240 views

Transmission of Gaussian Beam Through Graded-Index Slab

The $ABCD$ matrix of a glass graded-index slab with refractive index $n(y)=n_0(1-\frac{1}{2}\alpha^{2}y^{2})$ and length $d$ is $A=\cos(\alpha d)$, $B=\frac{1}{\alpha}\sin(\alpha d)$, $C=-\alpha ...
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5answers
239 views

Is velocity of light constant? [duplicate]

There is a difference between the concept of the speed of light and the velocity of light. are both of them constant ($dc=0$ and $dv_c=0$)? if yes, why?