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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18
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3answers
2k views

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 ...
15
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
13
votes
7answers
6k 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
377 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
180 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
523 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
66 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
355 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
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4answers
32k 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
524 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. ...
12
votes
2answers
3k views

Is true black possible?

Black is the absence of light because it absorbs light, but when we create black paint or black objects, light is always reflected, either in all directions in matte or smoothly in shiny black ...
12
votes
4answers
795 views

How does interference move energy from destructive to constructive regions?

I recently read (sorry but I don’t have a reference) that interference is not only about destructive and constructive interference but moving energy from destructive to constructive regions according ...
9
votes
2answers
237 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 ...
6
votes
4answers
4k views

Focusing light into an optical fiber cable

I'm trying to focus light from a flashing light lamp throught two lens into a optical fiber cable which is around 0.8cm in diameter. flashing light: a bulb and then covered by a glass of 7.5cm x 7cm ...
5
votes
2answers
916 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
4answers
3k 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?
4
votes
5answers
688 views

What makes Sun's light travel as parallel beams towards earth?

Sun's light appear to travel as parallel beams towards earth $_1$. Sun produces electromagnetic radiations through pp chain and other reactions in Photosphere $_2$. I don't see whether these ...
4
votes
4answers
239 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
8k 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
2answers
84 views

What exactly is color? [duplicate]

What is color? “The property possessed by an object of producing different sensations on the eye as a result of the way the object reflects or emits light”…. You might say. So take a white object ...
1
vote
1answer
335 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
352 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
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 ...
8
votes
1answer
886 views

Distribution of star colours in a galaxy

I'm trying to randomly generate a representation of a galaxy. I have some Idea on the spatial distribution of stars within a galaxy, and I can find plenty of material on the colour of stars, but ...
8
votes
2answers
422 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
648 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 ...
6
votes
4answers
443 views

Can we change a photon's frequency in mid-air?

Can we have a light source emitting photons in the infrared range and after, lets say, 5 meters, these photons become a photon in the x-ray range? The only way I know we can change a photon's ...
6
votes
1answer
202 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?
6
votes
4answers
974 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 ...
6
votes
6answers
10k 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
1answer
76 views

Why are some elemental materials grey?

How does grey occur in elemental materials such as metals? I believe that grey arises from the simultaneous reflection and absorption of all colors of the spectrum (in different atoms of course), as ...
3
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
91 views

Bending of light - photon's inertia instead of mass

Using classical mechanics, the formula for gravitational attraction is $$F = G\frac{m_1m_2}{r^2}.$$ This formula does not work for photons, and we need to use Einstein's theory of gravity to ...
3
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
263 views

Does Light Ever Cease Once Created

I was reading an article on Huffington Post (link to article) about the Multiverse theory. In the article it said this: The big news last week came from the Background Imaging of Cosmic ...
2
votes
2answers
212 views

Can we have light through out the house with out light being switched on for all the time?

Optical fibres are used to transmit light from one place to the other along curved path in a more effective manner. The optical fibres consist of thousands of strands of a very fine quality glass or ...
2
votes
6answers
6k 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
2answers
92 views

Speed of light and perception

So I'm reading a book called "The Elegant Universe" and here is a part of it Imagine two countries that have been at war are sitting down to sign a treaty ending hostilities while traveling aboard a ...
1
vote
2answers
327 views

Can we get the refractive index of a prism by using white light?

Can we get the refractive index of a prism by using white light ? I guess since white light is non chromatic, it is not possible.
1
vote
1answer
89 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
202 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
0answers
47 views

How can spacetime affect massless entities? [duplicate]

Why is light affected and "bent" by spacetime if it has no mass or density?
0
votes
2answers
1k views

Is there 100% reflective mirror…i just want one

I have heard there are none right now...but i saw something that said something about 100% reflection. Forgotten completely. sorry. I want it, i think it'd be very amazing to save sunlight in it from ...
0
votes
3answers
277 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
292 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 ...
-7
votes
5answers
668 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?.
15
votes
5answers
3k 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
2k 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
5answers
1k 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 ...
8
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 ...