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.

learn more… | top users | synonyms (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
2k 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

Slowing down light in an opaque crystal for a whole minute

I just read about a team of physicists at the University of Darmstadt, Germany, that managed to completely slow down a beam of light that traveled through an opaque crystal (article here). How is it ...
7
votes
1answer
1k views

What happens to light that falls into a black hole?

When light enters a black hole, what happens to it? I imagine the photons will either fall into the singularity, or the light will orbit just inside the event horizon indefinitely. (Some background ...
7
votes
2answers
45 views

Predicting solar storms?

Quote from BBC "A strong solar storm is expected to hit Earth shortly, and experts warn it could disrupt power grids, satellite navigation and plane routes." How is it that we are aware of a massive ...
6
votes
2answers
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 ...
5
votes
1answer
46 views

Why is reflected light polarised?

Why is reflected light polarised? I have learnt about Brewster's angle, and how at a particular angle all light reflected is polarised, but do not understand why. Is this something that could be ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

Squinting at light sources

I am sure it's just your eyelashes creating a filtering effects, but if you look a a bright(ish) light source such as a lightbulb while squinting, if looks like you are seeing straight light rays ...
5
votes
2answers
197 views

Redshifting of light from a moving light source

We know that the expansion of space causes redshifting of light. I even read somewhere that the Doppler effect also happens in light. So imagine I switch on the headlights of my car in front of a ...
5
votes
1answer
146 views

Predominant light frequency over the day?

I'm not well-versed in physics, so I hope you'll forgive me if this question is significantly off the mark. I'm interested in the predominant frequencies of light over the course of one day. My ...
5
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the colour of starlight?

I'm interested to know the colour of starlight - particularly in rgb terms, I'm pressuming it's either white, or very close to white, but I'm interested to know how close. To make it slightly more ...
5
votes
1answer
205 views

What would a length contracted object look like?

I have multiple sub-questions but they are related. What would the object look like if in were passing by? What would a star look like if we were traveling near $c$? Would the perspective be a a ...
5
votes
2answers
16k views

Why does earth look blue from outer space?

I know it's more than 70% water. But what has it got to do with earth's colour ?
4
votes
1answer
175 views

If refraction slows down light, isn't it possible to hold light still?

I have a quick question about the refraction of light, and I'm sorry if it seems a bit simplistic or even stupid, but I'm still learning. We know that when light passes through a denser medium, it ...
4
votes
1answer
141 views

Is it possible to apply force to a light particle?

I know, the universal speed limit is the speed of light $c$. So, is it possible to apply more force to a light particle? What would happen to it if we could?
4
votes
2answers
172 views

Is ocean color affected by Rayleigh Scattering?

We know that sky color is due primarily to Rayleigh scattering. Is Rayleigh scattering the dominant effect for ocean color too?
3
votes
1answer
68 views

White LEDs and colour perception

I’m very interested in LED lighting and the different spread of wavelengths that are produced compared to other types (like tungsten). Given that a White LED bulb actually produces 3 different peaks ...
3
votes
1answer
219 views

Beyond the gravity of a black hole

http://www.sciencealert.com/the-magnetic-field-just-outside-our-black-hole-has-been-studied-for-the-first-time reported strong magnetic fields escape out of black holes. Does that rule out photons ...
3
votes
3answers
419 views

Relation between wavelength and system size

We always say that when a given light wave interacts with atoms bound in a molecule, only waves with wavelength close to the inter-atomic-spacing are able to probe the system. In other context ...
3
votes
3answers
456 views

Making a plastic scintillator glow?

I have a plastic scintillator I had purchased off eBay, which is believed to be BC408 http://www.phys.ufl.edu/courses/phy4803L/group_I/muon/bicron_bc400-416.pdf Upon shining a small UV LED (10-40mA, ...
3
votes
3answers
139 views

Unpolarized Light

Suppose I had a ray of unpolarized light, and I was sitting inside the beam and looking at the electric fields oscillating, then , if I am looking at a point how would the oscillations look like? I ...
3
votes
1answer
231 views

Why are reflected objects blurry?

While this may seems like a strange question, I'll try to explain it the best I can. Like 75% of Americans, I wear glasses and contacts to correct my worsening vision. I'm not far sighted so objects ...
3
votes
4answers
147 views

Coherence effect on collecting sun light by mirrors

There are systems that collect sun light in one spot. I wonder, why does it accumulate additively, without destructive interference?
3
votes
3answers
458 views

What electric field vector should I use for modeling unpolarized light?

Regardless of computational cost, light is a kind of electromagnetic wave, so it can be simulated with Maxwell's equations. If we want to simulate light with Maxwell's equations, we need to express ...
3
votes
1answer
681 views

Snell's Law of Refraction

I was told that "Snell's law of refraction implies that a light ray in an isotropic medium travels from point a to point b in stationary time." Why is this true? Thanks.
3
votes
1answer
601 views

Formula for polarized “light” transmission through close filters?

I'm still trying to understand photons (or polarized electromagnetic radiation). This question is similar to one of my previous questions, but different: Consider the famous demonstration of crossed ...
2
votes
1answer
278 views

If atoms are mostly empty space, why doesn't light pass through everything?

Atoms are mostly empty space, and although I now understand why matter doesn't pass through other matter, why don't photons pass through the empty space of the atoms? Is it the same sort of idea as ...
2
votes
2answers
660 views

Why does a circle of light appear when I shine a laser pointer at a wire? [duplicate]

When I point a laser at a wire , a circle of light appears on a wall behind it . why this happens. What is the circle of light and why does it appear? Could anyone give some tips on what I should ...
2
votes
3answers
1k views

What “exactly” happens when a ray is incident at the critical angle?

The question arose when my physics teacher taught me geometrical optics and told that the phenomenon of both refraction and $reflection$ occur by change in medium. First of all, I'm not sure about the ...
2
votes
3answers
2k views

What happens to photons after they hit objects?

If I am not wrong when light hits for example white wall most of the photons are absorbed and transformed into heat and few of the photons at certain wavelength are reflected from the object. So white ...
2
votes
1answer
195 views

Is light so important in special relativity?

I'm an amateur physics enthusiast with no formal university education in Physics. So my question might sound very naive, so forgive me. I had this question in the back of my mind since the wrong ...
2
votes
2answers
270 views

How can heat turn into light

I am confused about how hot surfaces can radiate light to their surroundings. When I shine a light on a surface the light turns to heat spontaneously, and when I leave that hot surface it radiates ...
2
votes
1answer
3k views

Why does glass absorb infrared light?

I was under the impression that glass was transparent to light with a wavelength above ultraviolet, but when playing with my latest toy, an infrared thermometer which brought up a question I asked ...
2
votes
1answer
464 views

Red color has largest wavelenght and violet minimum (in the range of visible light). then why does violet light appears reddish? RED + BLUE = VIOLET [duplicate]

My question is simple. Green light is more similar to red light than violet, then why is violet reddish and green not? in the language of frequencies and wavelengths, red and violet should contrast ...
2
votes
2answers
275 views

Does any material glow, under appropriate conditions?

Given a high enough temperature, or a high enough electrical field, can we make every material emit visible light?
2
votes
3answers
274 views

How far does a Photon's field Extend?

I read the related answer to whether photons have size, and the answer seemed to be it depends. If a Photon, or a rather an E&M wave has a magnetic and electric field, should things be able to ...
2
votes
2answers
576 views

Diffraction and waves

Sorry about my poorly worded question as i'm not to good at explaining but bare with me so here i go. Does sound come as straight lines like ||||| and become diffracted into curves when it passes ...
2
votes
1answer
108 views

Is there a one-to-one relationship between colour theories and our trichromatic vision?

This has started to bug me more and more… it involves: colour theory the trichromatic properties of our eyes through cone cells and light. Is there a one-to-one relationship between colour ...
2
votes
1answer
333 views

What's the difference between the equivalence principle and curvature of spacetime?

Calculating using the equivalence principle only accounts for half the deflection of light, whereas the other half is from curvature of space-time. But isn't the equivalence principle the same thing ...
2
votes
2answers
659 views

Electron model under Maxwell's theory

I was not able to recall my memories, so: What is the formula that states the frequency of electrons revolving around nucleus is equal to the frequency of light (or photon) emitted (or radiated)? (I ...
1
vote
2answers
77 views

If curved paths imply that the vehicle is accelerated, how come do we assume that light gets curved whilst its speed is constant?

I don't understand how we can accept these two sentences at the same time: Light speed is constant, therefore experiences no acceleration. On the presence of a gravitation field, light path is ...
1
vote
2answers
184 views

Can matter have 100% reflection?

Is it possible to have matter that reflects all the light and does not absorb light at all? If thats possible then we can store light inside it right? I think we can trap light inside that matter in ...
1
vote
1answer
423 views

What is the frequency of the color black?

Our eyes don't see light; they detect vibrations in the 400-800 THz range that we call color. Since our eyes can detect the color we call black, what is its frequency?
1
vote
2answers
263 views

Light, being a probability wave, carries energy; does an electron wave also carry energy? If so, how?

The entity "light" behaves as a wave & particle. The wave is actually probability wave . That is, to every point in a light wave we can attach a numerical probability that a photon can be ...
1
vote
4answers
389 views

Double rainbows

In my garden, when I'm watering the plants I sometimes see a rainbow or two. How did two rainbows appear? Why can't I see three rainbows then, or how can I see three rainbows?
1
vote
1answer
1k views

Visible light through a single-mode optical fiber?

If I understand things correctly, the optical fibers used for (long-range) data transmissions are generally single-mode fibers, transmitting light in the 1300-1500 nm spectrum. Now, could such a ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

Why are two independent sources incoherent?

Coherent sources are produced from a single parent source. But, why are two independent sources always incoherent? Two sources can produce light of the same frequency. Then, I guess the problem is ...
1
vote
0answers
166 views

How to get “massless” equation of motion from the action of Nordstrom scalar field theory?

There is Nordstrom theory of the particle moving in a scalar field $\varphi (x)$: $$ S = -m\int e^{\varphi (x)}\sqrt{\eta_{\alpha \beta}\frac{dx^{\alpha}}{d \lambda}\frac{dx^{\beta}}{d ...
1
vote
0answers
58 views

Is there any evidence that everyone sees colours the same way? [duplicate]

We all know that the sky is blue. Grass is green. Blood is red. But, how do we know that everyone sees these colours more or less the same? How does one know that my ...
1
vote
1answer
386 views

Principle of relativity and motion perpendicular to the direction of light beam

consider you are in a train that moves with a speed of $c/4$. A bulb is hanged from the ceiling. A light beam leaves the bulb downward. Exactly under the bulb on the floor is a detector. According to ...