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 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
345 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
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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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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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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
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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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1answer
253 views

Why is the shadow of earth red?

Reading this article about the forthcoming eclipse on December 10th, I noticed mention that the moon passes through the red shadow of Earth; I'd always held the impression that a shadow is universally ...
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4answers
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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
80 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 \epsilon}{...
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1answer
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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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3answers
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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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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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3answers
836 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
149 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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2answers
538 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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6answers
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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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6answers
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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
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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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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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2answers
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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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Why is moonlight less colourful than yellow light?

Just what the title states; and this isn't an original question: On full-moon, moonlight is almost as bright as mid-dawn; yet there is hardly any colour visible. This is not the case with sunlight. ...
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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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3answers
367 views

Why does the point of intersection of two shadows look brighter?

When I sit in my garden during the day I always keep looking at the two intersecting shadows of two rods. It looks something like this: What I find weird about it is that at the point of ...
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5answers
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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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4answers
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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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4answers
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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 it?...
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2answers
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How do you measure wavelength/frequency of light

I'm sure this is a trivial question for someone who knows something about electromagnetic radiation, but: how do experimenters measure the wavelength/frequency of light? For example, how do we know ...
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3answers
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Why doesn't gravity speed up light?

We know that gravity speeds up a body; for instance, a meteor which enters the earth gets constantly accelerated up by earth's gravity. And from relativity we know that light bends near a massive body,...
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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
396 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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4answers
918 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 doesn'...
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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?
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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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9answers
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Why do we think of light as a wave?

I've read that light travels in a straight line and has a wavelength of 400nm to 700nm. But I don't understand why does it have a wavelength and what creates its wavelength? I agree with the concept ...
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2answers
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Can light affect gravity? [closed]

I have a mentor at work, who wrote a paper in the past regarding light and relativity. I am an aerospace engineer by training and a system administrator/programmer by trade, so I know a little bit ...
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1answer
511 views

Where in the atmosphere is the blue light scattered?

I have searched Wikpedia and the Physics Stack Exchange archieves, and I cannot find the answer to these two related questions. If it is, please guide me to where this information is located. If ...
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3answers
240 views

Why is night vision lacking color?

When I look through night vision with a video camera or see it in movies it always seems to be sort of grey or white. Why doesn't night vision have color?
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1answer
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How bright is a 150 W incandescent light bulb?

When I was a boy (I live in the UK) most light bulbs were incandescents and they were labelled with their wattage. The brightest bulb you could get was an 150 W incandescent light bulb. Today there ...
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4answers
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Light and Gravity - bending of light around a massive body [duplicate]

Well, as I have read, a massive body can cause light to bend around itself due to its gravitational attraction. What I don't understand is how, as the Newtonian formula for the force of gravitational ...
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2answers
709 views

Which solution to the electromagnetic wave equation is the most accurate model of monochromatic light?

When a photon is modeled as a monochromatic electromagnetic wave its electric and magnetic components are usually taken to be sine waves (for example here http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/...
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2answers
805 views

Why must an integrating sphere be a sphere?

Why must an integrating sphere be a sphere? Why can't it be an integrating cube? What is the difference? Could I use a cube to measure total illuminance like an integrating sphere does?
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5answers
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How comes unpolarized light do not undergo destructive interference?

As far as I know, unpolarized light is defined as light which as no clear axis of polarization, but electric field vectors in all directions. However, I also know that electric fields can be ...