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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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 ...
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1answer
226 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?
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1answer
281 views

Why does separating plastic from a cough drop create flashes?

I was tearing open individually-wrapped cough drops in the dark, and noticed that when I pulled apart two adhesive-joined pieces of silvery plastic film, small flashes of light were produced. It was ...
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4answers
15k views

What common materials absorb most infrared light?

I'm competing in a simple robotics competition where most of the participants use reflected infrared light to detect their opponent. I'd like to make my own robot as difficult to see as possible. What ...
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2answers
253 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
588 views

Why are black mosquito nets so much less visible than white ones?

I have just been installing a couple of mosquito nets for windows in our apartment. The material is polyester, fibers are approximately 0.2mm thick, and the hexagonal "holes" apprixmately 1.5mm in ...
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3answers
329 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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1answer
4k views

Transparency of materials

Is transparency of material has something to do with inter- or intra-molecular bonding? E.g. both graphite and diamond are carbon, but graphite is opaque and diamond transparent.
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3answers
226 views

Is that a result of thin-film interference?

Several years ago, I was laying on my bed and had a CD shaped transparent plastic disk (which was covering a 100 CD stack), basically a transparent CD. I don't know why but I took my phone and took a ...
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2answers
504 views

Why does Pyrex glow orange under UV?

In a Physics lesson today our teacher performed a demonstration to show how quinine in tonic water glows blue when under UV light. He showed us the same demonstration using water in a Pyrex beaker, ...
7
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2answers
212 views

Why is condensed milk glowing green under UV?

Teeth, nails and also сгущёнка (condensed milk) are glowing green when exposed to black light. What do they have in common? Is it a specific luminophore substance?
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3answers
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Why does red light travel faster than blue light?

I know that light of all frequencies travel at the same speed in vacuum. But I wonder why their speed differ in any other medium, why does red light travel faster if it has less energy than blue ...
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6answers
5k views

Is it possible to witness a circular rainbow?

What conditions would make it possible to see a naturally occurring fully 360° circular rainbow? Would it even be possible?
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3answers
1k views

Reflection at intersection of two mirrors

Consider two mirrors, which intersect at an angle. Let us talk about geometric optics. If we draw a light ray intersecting the mirrors at their point of intersection, how will it reflect? What will ...
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6answers
624 views

Why isn't it allowed to use a flash when taking pictures in a certain place?

When I go to, for example, a museum I try to take some pictures. Sometimes the museum staffs forbid me to use a flash. Do you know the reason? I don't think it is related to photo-electric effect, ...
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4answers
2k views

Colors from a computer vs. colors from visible spectrum of sunlight

Observation: So, I know that all computer screens are able to project many different colors by varying how they display the RGB (Red, Green, Blue) pixels. Question What's the difference between say,...
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4answers
2k 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 ...
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2answers
2k views

Why doesn't my pinhole camera work?

We all know that light travels in straight a line, which can be proved by pinhole imaging as in the picture shown : But when I'm doing this little experiment with an apple, no matter how I change ...
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4answers
802 views

Why is the sky blue: For a 3-year old [duplicate]

My nephew asked me yesterday why the sky was blue. I tried to explain it to him as best and as dumbly I could, but I failed. I tried to explain the concept of scattering of light using an analogy of ...
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6answers
1k views

How can molecule of a few angstroms absorb visible light of a few hundred nanometers?

I guess visible light is visible, because it has the right wavelength to be absorbed (or not) and emitted (or not) by many different molecules. Now visible light has a wavelength in the order of a few ...
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2answers
1k views

What would we see in the sky if it weren't blue

What would we see during the day when we look into the sky (other than clouds), if it weren't for Rayleigh scattering making the sky blue? Would the sky be dark, like at night?
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2answers
932 views

Homemade Spectrometer

Recently I have had ideas of how to build a spectroscope, but I'm not sure if it will work. As can be seen in the diagram, the experiment is simple: it consists of a laser that generates the light ...
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5answers
413 views

Blue light filtering

Prologue: my knowledge in these topics is fairly limited, so please feel free to point out the mistakes or the not-so-clear points, and bear with me for the oversimplicity of the language used. I was ...
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1answer
842 views

Test whether a glass prevents you from getting your Vitamin D portion?

I work in an office with glass, which I believe filters the UV radiation of the sunlight. Is it possible to test if exposure to the light coming through the glass will supply Vitamin D for me as a ...
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5answers
675 views

What are colors?

If you go to any course about photography, you learn that all colors are made up of the colors red, green and blue (RGB). (If you mix red, green and blue light, you will get white light, or any other ...
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1answer
481 views

Why does burning things make them black?

It's not clear to me how burning process can transform a material which was previously capable both of absorbing and emitting photon to one which can only absorb them. I would like to hear an educated ...
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4answers
252 views

Is light amplitude spatial?

In diagrams I often see light waves depicted as little sine waves that travel through space. And often when describing polarizers, the explainer will angle their hand to show the angle of ...
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1answer
5k views

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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5answers
483 views

Trapping a lightray

Given a solid whose interior is a hollow sphere with perfectly reflecting mirrors. A small hole is drilled in the sphere and a photon is sent in at some angle. Will it always eventually exit through ...
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5answers
580 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 ...
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3answers
408 views

Can visible light be emitted from a non-thermal source?

I was reading about thermal and non-thermal radiation and I was wondering if visible light can be emitted from a non-thermal source?
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3answers
414 views

Why does light seem to occlude objects in front of it

My question: why does light seem to occlude an object in front of it, especially when viewed from a distance? E.g. imagine a grid-like structure (for example an empty gasometer) viewed from a distance,...
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5answers
420 views

What is the difference between heat and light?

What i know is that light is an electromagnetic wave. Is heat also an electromagnetic wave of certain wavelength other than light ? Why the light wave cause heat in an object when it falls on the ...
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5answers
1k 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
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2answers
953 views

Could an oscillator at a high enough frequency produce light instead of radio waves?

Considering that light is in the 400-800 THz range, if you had an electrical oscillator that ran at that frequency connected to an aerial of some sort, would the antenna emit visible light, in the ...
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6answers
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How to Make RF Waves Visible

I understand RF (Radio Frequency) Waves are electromagnetic waves and a mode of communication for wireless technologies, such as cordless phones, radar, ham radio, GPS, and television broadcasts. Most ...
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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?
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2answers
609 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 ...
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2answers
410 views

What is changing in latest light bulb technologies?

I'm confused with the latest home lightning bulbs. Understanding filament bulbs was easy. For example take 220V, 100W filament bulb: Power = $V^2/R$ Filament gets heated and emits energy in the form ...
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2answers
472 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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3answers
596 views

How can light emit three kinds of spectra?

In case of black-body radiation, radiation gives continuous spectra. Molecular spectra is an example of band spectra. Similarly, there's also the atomic spectra. Why are the spectra of light not same ...
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1answer
2k views

How does sun light after it has passed window's pane still heat me up?

I believe it is so because most of photons' energy has successfully passed the glass. But is it so? And how can I roughly estimate part of light's energy which will pass obstacles like glass? And how ...
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1answer
3k views

Why both yellow and purple light could be made by a mix of red, green and blue?

We see the mix of red light and green light as yellow light (#FFFF00). The wavelength of yellow light lies between red and green. But the wavelength of purple light lies outside of red and blue. ...
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2answers
306 views

Why can we see the earth from outer space if the sky is blue?

As far as I know, the sky is blue because as light from the sun enters the atmosphere composed primarily of wavelengths of visible light. However, as the light happens across molecules of oxygen and ...
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2answers
1k views

Why does a glass window reflect white objects white from an atomic scatterers’ viewpoint?

Related: Is a white object always white? If you are standing in front of a glass window during the day, you can see your dim white t-shirt’s reflection in the window. The reflection is dim because ...
6
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3answers
4k views

Seeing colors: photons vs waves

As an atmospheric physics major I am familiar with electromagnetic radiation in the atmosphere and what dictates what wavelength objects will emit at. When observing radiation in the atmosphere it is ...
6
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2answers
6k 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 ...
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1answer
2k views

Visible light spectrum to color space

I need to be able to convert an arbitrary emission spectrum in the visible spectrum range (i.e. for every wavelength between 380 and 780, I have a number between 0 and 1 that represents the "intensity"...