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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Light traveling through a medium

Does the frequency of light change when it travels across an interface between two media? What happens to the light wavelength and the light velocity at the interface? I've gotten different answers ...
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1answer
665 views

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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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
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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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2answers
183 views

Single-mode fibers and ray-theory of light

I have read ray-theory cannot be applied to single-mode fibers. Why? I know rays are kind of an approximation to describe the real behavior of light, and electromagnetic theory and photonics are ...
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1answer
1k views

What is the meaning of this “let there be light” joke?

A middle school teacher across the restaurant is wearing this shirt, and I certainly don't get it.
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3answers
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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 ...
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4answers
1k views

Why are color values stored as Red, Green, Blue?

I learned in elementary school that you could get green by mixing blue with yellow. ...
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2answers
183 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 ...
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1answer
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Gravitational Redshift around a Schwarzschild Black Hole

Let's say that I'm hovering in a rocket at constant spatial coordinates outside a Schwarzschild black hole. I drop a bulb into the black hole, and it emits some light at a distance of $r_e$ from the ...
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2answers
181 views

Is it possible to have a perfectly black material?

After reading this NASA article about the "blackest material", the following stuck out to me. The tiny gaps between the tubes absorb 99.5 percent of the light that hits them Is it possible to ...
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2answers
623 views

Why doesn't the magnetic field polarize when polarizing light?

If the magnetic field doesn't polarize does it follow the electric field path of propagation? or does it vanish?
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1answer
180 views

What determines the form of the intensity curves in Laser-Induced Fluorescence (LIF) measurements?

What determines the form of the intensity spectra of different particle species in Laser-Induced Fluorescence (LIF) measurements? See e.g. I figure that bigger particles have more ways to get ...
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3answers
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formula for transparency of very thin film of metal

Is there formula that gives transparency of very thin film of given metal (tens of nanometers) to the visible light/light of given wavelength ? Which properties of metals are needed for the formula ? ...
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4answers
203 views

Rainbow around Sun

From the perspective of a person, a rainbow is formed when the Sun is behind the person, and there is a critical angle made by the rainbow. However, on several occasions, usually at noon when the Sun ...
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2answers
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Propagation of light in transparent media: absorption and reemission or scattering?

In the two Phys.SE questions What is the mechanism behind the slowdown of light/photons in a transparent medium? and Why glass is transparent? transparent media were discussed. But I'd like to clarify ...
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3answers
615 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 ...
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1answer
209 views

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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2answers
340 views

Can we observe diffraction even if the slit size is tending to zero?

According to Huygens principle, if we consider any point of the primary wave fronts, each point is the source of secondary disturbance. If the point size we consider tends to zero, the number of ...
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3answers
591 views

During reflection does the emitted photon have same properties?

When light (photon) is reflected the the original photon is absorbed by an electron and then emitted again. Does this "new" photon have the same wavelength, frequency etc. as the original?
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2answers
171 views

Gravitational Effect Versus the Speed of Light [duplicate]

If, for some reason, the sun were to suddenly disappear altogether, I would like to know the following: would we "feel" it first (i.e. being thrown into outer space due to no longer having anything ...
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2answers
216 views

Light in Different Reference Frames

I think I'm just confused, but for some reason I thought that light moving straight in one frame would have to move in the same direction in another frame. I know there are photons-but because I have ...
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1answer
1k views

When a color LCD/LED display is off it is black, when on it is colored. What color to light is an LCD/LED display

When a modern display using pixels is turned on its colors are different than the black that the screen is actually made up of. When put in light, such as sunlight, does the screen react to the color ...
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1answer
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Effects of high frequency lighting on human vision?

I have a couple of different LED flashlights. One of them has three different "modes" of brightness, and the way it controls it is via pulse width modulation (PWM). Here is a picture that illustrates ...
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3answers
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About the speed of light and gravity

I read (I think ) that part of relativity theory is that a strong gravitational field distorts the uniform passage of time. If this is true and a lightwave 'travelling' to Earth passes a star near ...
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2answers
134 views

A black torch to darken everything

Can we ever have a black colored (the color of the light and not the body's color) torch that darken (or dis-illuminates) everything? While compared to a normal torch it would function in an opposite ...
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1answer
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What causes refraction of visible light? [duplicate]

Refraction is the bending of a wave when it enters a medium where its speed is different. The refraction of light when it passes from a fast medium to a slow medium bends the light ray toward the ...
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2answers
258 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 ...
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2answers
886 views

Refraction of light and frequency dependence

Why do higher frequency waves refract more, both ocean waves and light waves? Also why is energy stored in the frequency as opposed to the wavelength.
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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
159 views

Observer looking out through the window of a train [duplicate]

When travelling by a train, it seems that the nearby objects move in the opposite direction(which I can explain) but the distant objects appear stationary. I can't explain this. By the concept of ...
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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 ...
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6answers
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Is there a physical reason for colors to be located in a very narrow band of the EM spectrum?

The portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that is visible to humans are wavelengths between 380 and 750 nanometers. I am aware that animals have different capacities than humans, but the EM ...
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4answers
8k views

Why is the sky never green? It can be blue or orange, and green is in between!

I, like everybody I suppose, have read the explanations why the colour of the sky is blue: ... the two most common types of matter present in the atmosphere are gaseous nitrogen and oxygen. ...
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3answers
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Can I use an antenna as a light source?

Can I use a normal metal antenna to emit visible light?
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3answers
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Is it possible to reproduce Double-slit experiment by myself at home?

I want to reproduce this experiment by myself. What I need for this. What parameters of slits and laser/another light source it needs? Is it possible to make DIY-detector?
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3answers
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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.
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4answers
366 views

Effect of gravity upon light and bagels

According to this question and this web site, photons undergo twice the deflection from gravitational fields as do physical objects. However, the weak equivalence principle states that locally, ...
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7answers
1k 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?
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3answers
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Why is the light reflected at the same angle from mirror?

From the school physics I know that the material objects bounce from the plane surface at the same angle, losing some kinetic energy. In the same school I was taught that the light (and waves in ...
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3answers
878 views

Why is the bottom part of a candle flame blue?

What’s the explanation behind the bottom part of a candle flame being blue? I googled hard in vain. I read this. I don’t understand how it’s explained by the emission of excited molecular radicals in ...
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3answers
367 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?
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2answers
166 views

Is a Perfect/Lossless Mirror possible?

In traditional mirrors, some of the input light is absorbed by atoms in the mirrors surface and are 'lost' as heat, degrading the quality of the reflected image. Could this loss be compensated by an ...
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2answers
485 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 ...
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1answer
54 views

What are the common points between physical optics and geometric optics? [closed]

I am trying to write a paper about light, I want to discuss the two way of studying light, the physical/wave optics and the geometric/ray optics, but I want to write a general introduction about them, ...
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4answers
348 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 ...
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4answers
31k views

What do ants see?

After watching some ants in my garden today, and then looking at this very illuminating demonstration, I got to wondering, about what they would see. Not specifically ants (I understand their ...
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3answers
478 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. ...
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2answers
209 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
826 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 ...