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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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 ...
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1answer
133 views

What makes metal change its color during heating?

What happens on atomic and molecular level? Is this true also for non-metals and metalloids?
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3answers
182 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?
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1answer
102 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 ...
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2answers
140 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 ...
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3answers
395 views

Can light be trapped theoretically?

My question is a little silly I know, but I'm curious to know if a particle of light can be theoretically trapped between two reflective screens. For example once the particle of light has left it's ...
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1answer
313 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 ...
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1answer
94 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 ...
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2answers
206 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?
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1answer
44 views

Does light accelerate as it nears a black hole? [duplicate]

As light is affected by gravity ( gravitational lending and black holes), it would seem that gravity causes acceleration. Acceleration has two parts: direction and magnitude. It is clearly evident ...
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0answers
57 views

How can spacetime affect massless entities? [duplicate]

Why is light affected and "bent" by spacetime if it has no mass or density?
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2answers
53 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 ...
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1answer
96 views

Why do we perceive a colour?

White/yellow light hits a red case, and the red color is reflected into our eyes, since other wavelengths are absorbed. My question is: since both the paint on the case and the white light have ...
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1answer
1k 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. ...
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2answers
658 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? ...
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0answers
125 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 ...
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2answers
512 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 ...
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3answers
324 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 ...
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2answers
3k 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 ...
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5answers
964 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?.
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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 ...
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2answers
88 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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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
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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
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2answers
46 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 ...
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2answers
408 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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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 ...
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2answers
227 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
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1answer
153 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 ...
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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
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1answer
206 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
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2answers
18k 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 ?
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1answer
194 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
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1answer
147 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?
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2answers
190 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
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1answer
83 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
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1answer
325 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 ...
3
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3answers
585 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
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3answers
475 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
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3answers
151 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
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1answer
261 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
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4answers
163 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
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1answer
392 views

Why does a light wave invert at a boundary with greater index of refraction?

Is there a reason why a EM wave reflects invertedly when it meets a boundary point with a greater index of refraction. In the case of ropes, if remember correctly, the reason why it inverts is to ...
3
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3answers
493 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
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1answer
613 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
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1answer
96 views

How does light focused through a lens create bokeh (blurry background)?

This question is relevant, though I don't think it quite answers the question. From a photography perspective, when you open the aperture wide (with a small f-number) you get a very shallow depth of ...
2
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2answers
715 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
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3answers
2k 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 ...