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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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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5answers
797 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 ...
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3answers
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How is temperature related to color?

I spent some time studying about temperatures and color of objects. It turns out that as we heat something it turns to red, then yellowish white and if we heat it more it turns to bluish-white. Like ...
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2answers
549 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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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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4answers
11k views

How do electromagnetic waves travel in a vacuum?

This is perhaps a total newbie question, and I will try to formulate it the best I can, so here it goes. How does an electromagnetic wave travel through for example, the vacumm of space? I usually ...
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403 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
158 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
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 ...
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2answers
1k views

Calculating the illumination of the moon

I am trying to find a formula that will enable me to calculate the illumination of the moon down to one thousandth of a percent, given that the Gregorian year, month, day, and hour is known. Can ...
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3answers
582 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
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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
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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
229 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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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 ...
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3answers
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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 ...
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1answer
1k 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 ...
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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 ...
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1answer
79 views

Speed of light affecting appearance of galaxies viewed not face on?

So this has been really bugging me over the past few days (and forgive me if the answer is so simple). Let's say we're observing the Sombrero galaxy. It is about 29 million light years away and 50 ...
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4answers
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Real and imaginary parts of dielectric constant vs refractive index?

So for a complex dielectric constant $\epsilon = \epsilon_a + i\epsilon_b$, the wave vector and index of refraction are related to it through $k = \frac{\omega}{c}n$ and $n = \sqrt{\frac{\mu ...
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1answer
10k views

Why is light produced when an underwater bubble is collapsed with a sound wave?

Why is light produced when an underwater bubble is collapsed with a sound wave? I have come across this fact on a page (similar to this) but can't understand "Why". I'm just curious about this ...
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Why the red-shift of distant galaxies is considered to be the effect of expanding spacetime?

Why it's not explained just by Doppler redshift caused by faster movement of those galaxies billions of years ago when that light was emitted? Would the speeds of the galaxies necessary for Doppler ...
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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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7answers
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Is the sun's solar radiance spectrum matching up with water's absorption spectrum just coincidence?

People frequently point out that water has a pretty narrow range in which it isn't very absorbing of light, reaching a minimum at a wavelength of about 500nm: And that our eyes have made good use ...
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757 views

Why doesn't visible light generate sparks in aluminum foil when microwaves do?

When aluminum foil is placed in a microwave, I see sparks generated by what I assume is dielectric breakdown. However, if I put aluminum foil in visible light (assuming the same intensity), there are ...
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1answer
135 views

How far can one look into space while relying on light in the visual spectrum?

Put the other way around. From how far does visible light reach the Earth to be observable by a telescope that operates in this spectrum? Gas clouds for instance absorb light. A star behind such a ...
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1answer
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Why do some materials reflect (metals) and other materials reflect and refract (glass) from the quantum perspective?

Recently I was asked to explain the difference between reflection and total internal reflection from a purely conceptual standpoint (no math). Let me explain what I already know. Reflection and ...
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496 views

Why does a firebrand glow brightest before it burns out?

I've noticed this in match-sticks, and mango wood. After the flames die out, the brand glows red for a while. The glow is brightest right before it dies out. My guess is that immediately before the ...
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Why can I turn light red or blue by holding my finger up to it?

This is a difficult phenomenon to explain. Imagine you have an opaque object partially covering a very bright light source, for example, an object held up against the sky. The left hand diagram is ...
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6answers
821 views

Is antumbra part of shadow darker than penumbra part of shadow?

I'm exploring different types of shadows casted by objects. I want to know if antumbra part of a shadow is darker than penumbra part. I've found two misleading pictures on Wikipedia: First: Second: ...
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3answers
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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?
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Do photons have acceleration?

Photons travel at the fastest speed in our universe, the speed of light. Do photons have acceleration?
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5answers
6k views

How to bend light?

As we all know that light travels in rectilinear motion. But can we bend light in parabolic path? If not practically then is it possible in paper? Has anyone succeeded in doing that practically ?
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1answer
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Why is the shadow of a wind turbine a bit slow at first then very quickly, etc. and not equivalent to the wings?

When I stand at a wind turbine and look at the shadow on the ground, the shadow is a bit slow at first then very quickly, etc. Very strange.
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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 ...
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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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3answers
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Why do prescription glasses that darken in sunlight fail to darken when the light travels through a car windshield?

I was going to buy this add on, as I almost exclusively use my sunglasses for driving. I'm just stacking them over my normal ones now... but it's quite annoying that I almost paid the extra $$$ for ...
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4answers
2k 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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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 ...
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3answers
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Speed of light in a gravitational field?

How do I solve the speed of light in gravitational field? Should I just add gravitational acceleration in speed of light? $$c'=c_0+g(r)t~?$$
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2answers
311 views

What determines the sharpness of a shadow?

What are the factors that affect the sharpness of a shadow? I would think that the distance between the light source and the object, the distance between the object and the shadow, and the size of ...
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4answers
2k views

Why is an opaque body opaque?

When does a body qualify to be called an opaque body? Is it anybody which cannot let visible light through it or is there any other definition? And when and how does a body allow radiations through ...
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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 ...
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347 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 ...
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2answers
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How much light is there in space and how heavy is it?

Our night sky is filled with stars. On a dark night a significant fraction of the sky is light. This light, we are told, has been in transit for many millions of years. There must therefore be quite a ...
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2answers
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Why do we use microwaves in microwave oven?

We know that any object above absolute zero emits electromagnetic radiation. So hotter the object shorter the wavelengths. In the electromagnetic radiation spectrum radio waves has the longest then ...
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3answers
318 views

How to arrange mirrors so I can't see myself?

If I wanted to surround myself with mirrors how would I need to arrange them so that if I stood in the middle of them I couldn't see myself in any reflection? For simplicity let's just say we only ...
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3answers
746 views

Why does light diffract only through slits?

We can see diffraction of light if we allow light to pass through a slit, but why doesn't diffraction occur if we obstruct light using some other object, say a block? Why are shadows formed? Why ...
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4answers
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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?