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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28
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3answers
5k views

Where does the light go when I turn off the light switch?

As above... Surely it must go somewhere? My child asked me this question and it was a difficult one to answer.
15
votes
7answers
3k views

Why can't we store light in the form of light?

We can store cold (ice), heat (i.e. hot water bag) and electrical charge (batteries). We can even "store" a magnetic field in a magnet. We can convert light into energy and then, if we want, back to ...
7
votes
7answers
942 views

Why can't we have a wave of particles?

I understand the nature of light can be complex and has extensive theories/experimental data. We hear light can be both a wave and particle, so why can't it be both, a wave of particles?
25
votes
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 ...
8
votes
3answers
350 views

How can a body be transparent?

How can a body be transparent? I need the theoretical explanation for the same. Has anybody succeeded in doing that practically?
5
votes
2answers
325 views

Which solution to the electromagnetic wave equation is the most accurate model of monochromatic light?

When a photon is modeled as a monochromatic electromagnetic wave its electric and magnetic components are usually taken to be sine waves (for example here ...
3
votes
4answers
325 views

How are we able to view an object in a room with bulb..?

This is a very basic question on optics. How are we able to view an object kept in a room with a bulb? From what I understand, light rays from bulb will hit the object and some colour will be ...
9
votes
2answers
167 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
682 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 ...
5
votes
5answers
4k views

Is it (theoretically) physically possible to project an image into thin air?

Is there some law of physics that strictly prohibits the projection of 2D or 3D images into thin air (such as holograms in movies) or is a solution to achieve this still up for grabs by an eventual ...
2
votes
1answer
317 views

how many times have the first photons lapped the universe?

I'm not really interested in the actual number of times, but rather an explanation of a closed Universe. How do we still measure the background radiation of the Big Bang? Those electromagnetic waves ...
11
votes
4answers
230 views

Does the speed of medium affect the path of light?

Let's say I shine a laser from a stationary medium into a moving medium (suppose the water is moving very quickly) perpendicular to the interface and back to a stationary medium like this: (Note: ...
9
votes
1answer
296 views

How would neutron matter appear to the naked eye?

Neutron matter is matter comprised entirely of neutrons, as it exists in neutron stars. Most optical phenomena encountered in everyday life, such as light reflection and spectral absorption (i.e. ...
8
votes
2answers
356 views

Are there “gaps” in light, or will it hit everywhere?

Not sure how to word my question. Picture a light source in vacuum, so nothing disturbs the light (or similar conditions), 2d. If I move very, very far away, will it happen that some of the light ...
7
votes
2answers
527 views

How does infrared light 'erase' phosphorescence on zinc sulfide?

I found some sheets of zinc sulfide in my basement that phosphoresce green for up to 24 hours or so after exposure to bright light in the violet range or shorter. One of the first things I tried was ...
7
votes
3answers
2k views

Conservation of energy and Doppler effect?

From what I understand, the frequency of light coming from the source moving towards an observer increases. From $ E=hv $ , this implies increase in energy of photon. What really is confusing, is ...
6
votes
1answer
181 views

Is Huygen's Principle Axiomatic?

Is Huygens Principle just a fundamental way to understand light? It always seemed to me that it was somehow "derived" or that it should be-but is it simply a well-founded theory?
5
votes
4answers
2k views

What color would a proton be if it were visible to the human eye?

If a photon hits a proton, would it have a color? What color would it be?
5
votes
4answers
654 views

The Sun as a gravitational lens

Since the Sun is a gravitational lens with as focal length of 550 AU for visible light, with an immense amplification factor, shouldn't it light up objects hanging out there? We should get solar ...
4
votes
1answer
364 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
457 views

Does light induce an electric current in a conductor?

I know that electromagnetic waves induce electric currents in conductors and that's the basis for radio, wi-fi etc. I also know that light is also an electromagnetic wave. So, can light induce a ...
4
votes
4answers
222 views

Why does it require such little energy to create the fastest thing in the universe?

I have noticed when I turn on the light switch in my house light comes from the bulb. How is this light created?(process occurring in the bulb) and why is this small amount of electricity enough to ...
4
votes
6answers
4k 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
votes
4answers
549 views

What is difference between white objects and transparent objects as far as photons are concerned?

Transparent materials let photons through because the energy gap of electron is so large that the photons cannot be absorbed. If the material absorbs a photon, the photon disappears; does this mean ...
3
votes
5answers
3k 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 ...
3
votes
6answers
6k 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
votes
6answers
5k 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
78 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
195 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?
0
votes
3answers
242 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 ...
-1
votes
1answer
179 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 ...
15
votes
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
votes
2answers
1k 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
votes
6answers
6k views

Is “dark clothes for winter, light for summer” relevant?

We are told to wear light clothes in summer as they are better at reflecting sunshine and keeping us cool. And dark clothes absorb sunshine and keep us warm. But is it really relavent? If I buy ...
9
votes
5answers
852 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
votes
2answers
1k 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
792 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
votes
2answers
376 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
2answers
85 views

Redshifting of light from a moving light source

We know that the expansion of space causes redshifting of light. I even read somewhere that the Doppler effect also happens in light. So imagine I switch on the headlights of my car in front of a ...
5
votes
1answer
97 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
1k 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
votes
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 ...
5
votes
1answer
180 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
votes
2answers
7k 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 ?
5
votes
3answers
5k 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
votes
2answers
148 views

Squinting at light sources

I am sure it's just your eyelashes creating a filtering effects, but if you look a a bright(ish) light source such as a lightbulb while squinting, if looks like you are seeing straight light rays ...
4
votes
2answers
100 views

Is ocean color affected by Rayleigh Scattering?

We know that sky color is due primarily to Rayleigh scattering. Is Rayleigh scattering the dominant effect for ocean color too?
3
votes
3answers
215 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
3k 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
513 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 ...