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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Is every electromagnetic radiation considered “light”?

Somebody mentioned on Freenode chatroom for physics that All Electromagnetic Radiation are delivered in form of Photons not just light. Is it true? Does that mean if we get a THF electrical ...
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4answers
4k views

Explanation about black color, and hence color

I'm bit confused about 'black' as a color. As per my knowledge, it is not given in visible color spectra like other colors for example red, violet etc. Also I'm confused with definition of color--does ...
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2answers
84 views

Refraction of light rays

My textbook says that the greater the refractive index of a medium, the lower the speed of a light ray passing through it. Seawater has a slightly larger refractive index than fresh water. Light ray ...
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2answers
2k views

Wavelength and resolution

I'm reading some texts that seam to assume knowledge of light that I'm not too familiar with. How does wavelength of light relate to the minimum distance span that can be observed (i.e. you cannot ...
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3answers
5k 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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1answer
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Could the shadow move with faster-than-light speed? [duplicate]

If I make a huge laser with a figure for shadow in front of the laser, and I shine it on to the moon, will I see the light from the laser AND the shadow moving the same speed? (I read somewhere the ...
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2answers
258 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 ...
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2answers
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Why don't fluorescent lights produce shadows?

I have watched light sources such as incandescent lamps and other lamp sources; they have always made shadows. But a fluorescent lamp doesn't make any shadow. What is the reason behind the non-...
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1answer
12k views

What happens if you remove the polarization filter from a computer monitor?

Have a look at this youtube video (and some extra footage here). Here I will post a gif showing in short what it is about: It shows that if you remove the polarizing filter from a pc's monitor and ...
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4answers
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Why does moonlight have a lower color temperature?

Moonlight has a color temperature of 4100K, while sunlight has a higher color temperature of more than 5000K. But objects illuminated by moonlight don't look yellower to the eye. They look bluer. ...
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4answers
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Do rainbows have ultraviolet bands and infrared bands?

We have seen that rainbows looks so colorful as we are only able to see only the visible light. But Do they also have ultraviolet bands and infra-red bands, that we are unable to see? I know someone ...
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5answers
11k views

Why is water clear?

Water appears transparent to visible light, yet most other objects are opaque. Why is that? Is there an explanation why water appears transparent? Is water transparent at all wavelengths, or are ...
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7answers
7k 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 ...
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6answers
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Can UV light make us invisible?

For an object to create different EM waves, it needs to increase the temperature, so what if we or some material could be so hot, that it would emit ultraviolet light, and thanks to that be invisible ...
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3answers
2k views

Why isn't light scattered through transparency?

I'm asking a question that has bothered me for years and years. First of all, let me give some context. I'm a layman in physics (college educated, math major). I've read Feynman's QED cover to cover, ...
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4answers
6k views

Why does adding red light with blue light give purple light?

Our eyes contain 3 photoreceptor cells (cones) to perceive three wavelength ranges of light. Here is a visual representation of the wavelengths by these receptors (S, M and L). So if we have light ...
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1answer
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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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7answers
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How do I see things of the bright room, being in the dark room?

Visible light emitted or reflected from the objects around us provides information about the world. If I sit in a dark room, and see the bright room outside, I am able to see all the objects of ...
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4answers
5k 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
2k views

Why is the sky dark at night? [duplicate]

The question is the well-known Olbers' paradox: If there are so many/infinite stars, in every direction, why is it dark at night? Where goes all the light we don't see? Discussing with a friend ...
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4answers
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Why doesn't more light bounce off of things in the manner of sound?

If I'm sitting in the den with my door slightly cracked, I can hear my wife washing dishes in the kitchen down the hall. But why can't I also 'see' images of her washing dishes if, say, I looked up on ...
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2answers
4k views

Squinting at street lights

Simple question, I've always wanted to know the answer to this. Why do you see a pair of lines radiating out from street lights when your squint at them? I can't think of a better way of describing ...
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6answers
12k 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 ...
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3answers
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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 ...
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2answers
10k views

How do you measure wavelength/frequency of light

I'm sure this is a trivial question for someone who knows something about electromagnetic radiation, but: how do experimenters measure the wavelength/frequency of light? For example, how do we know ...
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3answers
15k views

3d holograms - How are they created?

How do 3d holograms work exactly? I read that there is a laser in use, but how are the multiple perspectives generated and how is the light trapped? in a certain area to create the effect? ...
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1answer
856 views

What does a light wave look like (3d model)

What does a light wave look like? The only models I can seem to find online are 2D waves, they just look like sin() graphs. I have seen the models of the two components of "light waves" (electric ...
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1answer
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Photometer: measured Irradiance L converted to photon rate

I am conducting an experiment in which the power meter reading of $410\,nm$ narrow bandpass stimulus is noted to be 30 $\frac{\mu W}{cm^2}$ at a distance of 1 inch away from the light source. I wish ...
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3answers
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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?
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6answers
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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 ...
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3answers
331 views

If light is linearly polarized, does it have some spatial extent?

If light (a photon) is linearly polarized, say vertically, does it have some vertical spatial extent (perhaps in amplitude)?
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3answers
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What determines the apparent radius of the rainbow?

Let's say I know how to compute the apparent radius of a rainbow from the viewpoint of the observer: take a photo of the scene, measure the distance to a known reference object, and its dimensions. ...
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1answer
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Why is light produced when an underwater bubble is collapsed with a sound wave?

Why is light produced when an underwater bubble is collapsed with a sound wave? I have come across this fact on a page (similar to this) but can't understand "Why". I'm just curious about this ...
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5answers
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How to bend light?

As we all know that light travels in rectilinear motion. But can we bend light in parabolic path? If not practically then is it possible in paper? Has anyone succeeded in doing that practically ?
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2answers
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How much light is there in space and how heavy is it?

Our night sky is filled with stars. On a dark night a significant fraction of the sky is light. This light, we are told, has been in transit for many millions of years. There must therefore be quite a ...
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2answers
366 views

Sensitivity of eye

In which color human eye is most sensitive?
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1answer
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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 ...
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2answers
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Why human and most of vertebrates cannot see Near-Infrared light (720nm-1500nm)? [closed]

On daytime, the surface of Earth is illuminated abundantly by light of spectrum from 250nm-1500nm, that includes near-ultraviolet spectrum (250nm-380nm), visible spectrum (380nm-720nm) and near-...
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3answers
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Why can't light pass through walls but sound can?

When I sit in a room I can hear voices coming from the adjacent room but the light in adjacent room does not enter my room i.e. sound waves travels through the wall but light waves can't. Why?
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2answers
25k views

Is black a color or absence of color? [closed]

Is black a color or absence of color? When there is no light, everything is black, so how can we say that black is a color?
3
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1answer
187 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 ...
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10answers
3k views

How far can light go?

When a ray of light is projected, (say) from the surface of Earth to outside in space. The condition is that, there is no obstruction to it till infinity (it travels only in vaccum). My question is ...
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0answers
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Is Wikipedia wrong about Huygens-Fresnel Principle?

Someone posted a question about why backward waves don't exist according to the Huygens-Fresnel principle: Why doesn't a backward wave exist? In following up on this question I read the Wikipedia ...
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3answers
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Is heat always associated with Light?

I have found that light always produces heat. The only cases I think heat is absent with light is Fluorescence and Phosphorescence (maybe because they emit low energy but maybe the heat is still ...
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3answers
354 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 ...
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5answers
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What happens to light and mass in the center of a black hole?

I know that black holes are "black" because nothing can escape it due to the massive gravity, but I am wondering if there are any theories as to what happens to the light or mass that enters a black ...
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2answers
95 views

Why is reflected light polarised?

Why is reflected light polarised? I have learnt about Brewster's angle, and how at a particular angle all light reflected is polarised, but do not understand why. Is this something that could be ...
8
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2answers
2k views

How does stuff glow in the dark?

Many things have glow in the dark properties (glow sticks, paint, toys ..), and I am wondering what is the physics behind them. How do these materials store light energy and emit it later when dark? ...
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1answer
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What is the meaning of this “let there be light” joke?

Someone across the restaurant is wearing this shirt, and I certainly don't get it. Update Related: What does this quote about the four dimensional divergence of an antisymmetric tensor mean?
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2answers
254 views

Is manufacturing roughness really the only reason we don't see optical interference in thick dielectrics like windows?

I had always kind of wondered why we didn't see interference in things like windows -- we were taught that the condition is that the thickness of the film/slab/medium just has to be an integral number ...