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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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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3answers
444 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
325 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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2answers
546 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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0answers
128 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
56 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
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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1answer
103 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
715 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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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
990 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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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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5answers
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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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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 ...
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3answers
5k views

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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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"...
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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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1answer
157 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
210 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 ...
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2answers
240 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 wall....
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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 ...
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2answers
19k 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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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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1answer
151 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
207 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?
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1answer
198 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 ...
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3answers
156 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 ...
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1answer
289 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 ...
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3answers
489 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, ...
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3answers
508 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 ...
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3answers
670 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 (...
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1answer
410 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 ...
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1answer
93 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 ...
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1answer
114 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 ...
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2answers
420 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
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1answer
361 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
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2answers
770 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 ...
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3answers
3k 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 ...
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1answer
206 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 ...
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1answer
714 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.
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2answers
327 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?
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1answer
564 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
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1answer
3k views

If time stops at the speed of light is a photon 'everywhere' at once? [duplicate]

I am not a physicist so excuse my question if it's paticularly stupid. As a particle gets closer to the speed of light time slows down as for that particle as compared to a reference from the ...
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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 ...
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3answers
320 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
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2answers
725 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 ...
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1answer
4k 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 ...