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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9
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2answers
282 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
6
votes
4answers
1k 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
4answers
5k 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
1k 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
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4answers
4k 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
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5answers
3k 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 ...
2
votes
0answers
233 views

Possibility of a free-space hologram

Holograms are real. But they are not what sci-fi calls holograms. From a simple geometric optics standpoint we can see that in order to create the illusion of an object there must be some sort of ...
2
votes
2answers
110 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 ...
2
votes
3answers
828 views

What starts the movement of a photon

Although a photon has no (rest) mass, it does have a measurable speed. Its movement can be altered by gravity. A photon "travels". If I turn on a flashlight, seen by someone at a distance, the photons ...
1
vote
2answers
118 views

Would passing horizontally polarized light through a varying width vertical slit allow you to measure the positional (x) amplitude of light? [duplicate]

I have found closely related questions on StackExchange, but (surprisingly) not this exact question. Seems some answers say individual photons do not have amplitude, only when traveling with other ...
1
vote
1answer
350 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 ...
28
votes
3answers
6k views

Why are there no stars visible in this photograph?

Pluto and Charon, photo taken by New Horizons on July 8, 2015 from a distance of 6 gigameters. it's hard for me to believe there were no stars behind the twin dwarf planets in the field of vision. ...
15
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
11
votes
4answers
454 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
3k 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
2answers
588 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
716 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
1answer
216 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?
7
votes
4answers
11k 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 ...
6
votes
5answers
785 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
2answers
547 views

Blue-shifting as opposed to violet-shifting

A recent XKCD comic implies that the sky is blue as opposed to violet due to human physiology, and that animals more sensitive to shorter wavelengths will perceive the Earth's sky as the shortest ...
6
votes
6answers
14k 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
3k views

What does the colour of a light bulb depend on?

There are light bulbs of different colors available (red, green, yellow, white, etc). What does the color depend on? Is it on the temperature of the filament?
4
votes
1answer
190 views

What causes these rainbow effects using a polarizing filter on an airplane?

I know that light reflected from a surface at 45° is polarized and that for a similar reason skylight arriving from a direction orthogonal to the sun is polarized too. Photographers make use of this ...
4
votes
4answers
246 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
103 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
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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
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3answers
106 views

Is sunlight truly white?

I recently purchased a book on nuclear astrophysics, with no goal of mastering the topic but merely to read in between exams and hopefully learn something, it is revealed that the sun is composed ...
2
votes
2answers
544 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.
2
votes
2answers
342 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
1k views

Calculating the coherence length from a spectrum

I have measured the spectrum of the LED in my interferometry set-up, and now I want to calculate the coherence length from it. A commonly found formula is $l_{coh} = \frac{c}{\Delta f}$, sometimes ...
2
votes
2answers
247 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
2answers
2k views

Do photons actually generate a slight kinetic force?

My question is even though photons have no (rest) mass, do they emit a external force due to EM radiation causing electrons to be excited and jump to higher energy shells which electrons have mass ...
1
vote
3answers
169 views

Path of light as it travels between two black holes

What would happen to light passing through a narrow space between the event horizons of two equal-mass black holes? Would it deviate or follow a straight path?
1
vote
1answer
98 views

Is it possible to produce coherent light with a thermal source? [closed]

Coherent light means monochromatic light and alle waves have the same phase difference. This is given for laser, where the resonator is a potential box and the outgoing waves have the same phase ...
1
vote
2answers
136 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
1answer
288 views

Why is a rainbow curved in shape?

Why is a rainbow curved in shape? When dispersion of light takes place, light splits into seven colors, but when rainbow is formed it appear to be bent. Why does this happen even though light travels ...
1
vote
1answer
93 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
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2answers
203 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
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0answers
53 views

How can spacetime affect massless entities? [duplicate]

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

Laser beam sensed by scattering

Can a laser beam, whether it is a IR laser or of the visible to human eye spectrum, be seen/sensed by an electronic eye like a photosensor/photodetector, not human eye, if the beam is just in air? For ...
0
votes
1answer
993 views

Why do objects of a given color appear white under light of that color?

Under light from the sun, a red object will scatter the red component of light, and absorb all others. Hence, the human eye perceives it as "red". White objects scatter all wavelengths of light. ...
0
votes
2answers
563 views

How can opaque black object occur?

I know the fact that a material appeared as black when all wavelength photons were absorbed. I also know that opaque object is the result of reflection and scattering of light wave. Is it right? ...
0
votes
0answers
120 views

Light emanating from finger tips?

My little nephew on two occasions (when he was 4 now 6) said he saw light rays emanating from his fingers. His father said this is true and that there is physics behind it. I have searched the ...
0
votes
2answers
439 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 ...
0
votes
3answers
312 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
2answers
2k 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 ...
-9
votes
5answers
912 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 ...