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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6
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5answers
489 views

What exactly are light waves?

We know a sound wave is a disturbance that moves through a medium when particles of the medium set neighboring particles in motion. And using the pressure variations we can plot a pressure/time graph ...
6
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2answers
408 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 ...
5
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2answers
1k views

Can spectacles converge sunlight to an extent that it burns the eyeball?

I need to know whether wearing spectacles can cause optical harm. I saw a movie where one pair of glasses was placed on table exposed to sunlight, then the sunlight converged and focused to a point ...
5
votes
2answers
2k 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?
5
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2answers
1k views

Why does the Sun turn red near sunset?

At daytime the Sun's light is yellowish if not near white. Why when the Sun starts to go down that it's light turn more red. I don't think the earth's rotation is so rapid to cause a red shift. Why ...
5
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2answers
5k 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 ...
4
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2answers
1k 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 ...
4
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1answer
2k views

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 ...
3
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3answers
820 views

Why does water reflect light?

Why does water reflect light? What is actually happening when light is reflected by water? We know why metals reflect light; water, however, is not metal, but it still reflects light and we can see ...
3
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1answer
220 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 ...
3
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3answers
3k views

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 ? ...
3
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4answers
6k 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
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4answers
225 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 ...
3
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2answers
1k views

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 ...
3
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3answers
814 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
1answer
64 views

Polarization of light upon reflection

I was wondering (since I've looked pretty hard and haven't been able to find anything)- are there any models that explain the polarization of light upon reflection? Everywhere I've looked I've seen ...
2
votes
2answers
927 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
307 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 ...
2
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1answer
2k 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 ...
2
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1answer
2k views

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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0answers
117 views

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 ...
1
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1answer
327 views

How many foci does a converging or diverging lens have?

I thought this was a simple question but can't seem to find a direct answer. In ray diagrams with a converging or diverging lens, we always draw F (the focal length) on both sides of the lens. But ...
1
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4answers
202 views

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 ...
1
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2answers
154 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 ...
1
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1answer
4k views

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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vote
2answers
505 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
2k 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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2answers
899 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 ...
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2answers
356 views

Keep the light beam in a closed room, is it possible? [duplicate]

I mean if I am in a room totally closed to light. If I switch on a torch for a second then switch it off. So will the inside of room be always bright?
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3answers
1k 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
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1answer
789 views

Why do night sky appear red when it is cloudy?

Since childhood, I have seen that whenever at night, the sky is cloudy, the sky becomes red. But, clouds are grayish, so it is expected that the sky becomes more darker. But no, it is not! Why does ...
0
votes
1answer
129 views

Determining the path of a light ray

Let's consider a ray in the plane $xy$. Let the refractive index be defined in any point of the plane with the function $n(x,y)$. In time $t=0$ the ray is located in coordinates $(x_0, y_0)$ and its ...
0
votes
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 ...
60
votes
2answers
12k views

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 ...
43
votes
6answers
6k views

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 ...
40
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9answers
6k views

How would night sky look like if the speed of light was infinite?

Would it be brighter? Different color? Gravitational lensing? Would black holes exist?
32
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3answers
12k 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.
11
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4answers
418 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, ...
28
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4answers
6k views

Why are stars white?

That is may be a easy question, but I am not a professional. The sun is a star and when I look at the sun is usually yellow. Why stars in the night are white? I suppose is for the distance. What is ...
7
votes
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?
15
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
14
votes
7answers
8k views

Why does light change direction when it travels through glass?

This was explained to me many years ago, by a physics teacher, with the following analogy: "If someone on the beach wants to reach someone else that is in the water, they will try to travel as much ...
8
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3answers
409 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
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2answers
219 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
628 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
1answer
82 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, ...
3
votes
4answers
371 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 ...
20
votes
4answers
34k 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 ...
14
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3answers
797 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. ...
13
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1answer
361 views

Does my green laser pointer emit three distinct frequencies, or is my measurement flawed?

I was playing around with a cheap diffraction grating and my set of laser pointers, and I noticed that while the red and the blue pointers produce a single point in the spectrum, my green laser ...