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 is barometric light porduced?

A shaken sealed glass tube containing liquid mercury in a dark room will glow. This has been know since the 17th century and is called barometric light. How does the addition of potassium ...
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2answers
58 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 ...
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93 views

Is there any case of total transmission?

When light strikes the interface of two media some light is refracted and some is reflected. But, is there a case where no light is reflected i.e all the light gets passed through the given object. ...
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2answers
222 views

Photons-Wave/particle duality

I know that photons and electrons and such are said to have a wave particle duality, but what does that mean for a photon? When light strikes an object, are many photons emitted, enough to draw ...
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1answer
208 views

Is a 3 LED flashlight brighter than a single LED one? (same LEDs, same power through each LED)

Say I have one LED in a flashlight, it produces some light. Now, if I have 3 of those LEDs in the same flashlight, each LED receiving the same amount of energy than the single LED was receiving in ...
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1answer
97 views

What is the largest diameter an optical fiber can have? - for nonimaging visible light transmission

Is there any theoretical limitation on the size of the diameter of an Plastic optical fiber? I would like to transmit visible sunlight through it. I see bundles of small cores available but wouldn't ...
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132 views

Can you “fold” EM or light waves? (i.e) long wave that is reflected by mirror in fragments - like in the game “Snake”

So, I was reading about the Casimir effect. Two mirrors facing each other attract to each other in a vacuum. The reason is due to pressure exerted on those mirrors from the multitude of EM waves (like ...
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87 views

A question about how light hits a surface

my question is about how photons travel from a light source and hit an object. When you look at an object being hit by light the whole surface becomes brighter. What i'm trying to understand is why ...
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1answer
357 views

plotting an sRGB gamut Chromaticity Diagram starting with xy coordinates

Starting with xy coordinates I would like to plot a chromaticity diagram displaying just the sRGB gamut portion of the CIE xy chromaticity diagram. For each ...
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903 views

How do we see different colours?

Why do different wave lengths cause electrons to behave(?) differently, causing us to see different colors? What is happening at the quantum level which causes the colour black to absorb all of the ...
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1answer
261 views

Is there a mathematical way to describe how a flame flickers?

I love the way candles flicker. It's a great effect and I almost want to see it replicated in an actual lightbulb. I was curious if there is any way to express that mathematically? I'm not that ...
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475 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 ...
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2answers
62 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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Optical Bloch Oscillation

I have a doubt about how the optical Bloch oscillations happen in a 1D photonic crystal. I try to explain: in a photonic crystal with discrete translational symmetry in one direction I superimpose a ...
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Two Photon Absorption dependence on Semiconductor Band Gap

It's well known that Two Photon Absorption coefficient is scaling with $E_g^{-3}$. Does anyone know what is the physical reason for this scaling? What is the physical theory behind this mathematics?
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Bandgap Spacing in Photonic Crystals

I am doing some self-study on photonics and have encountered the following question: We know that amorphous electronic crystals such as amorphous silicon have a bandgap. Can amorphous photonic ...
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6answers
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Do photons have acceleration?

Photons travels with the largest speed in our universe, the speed of light. Do photons have acceleration?
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3answers
1k views

Newton's corpuscular theory

Where did Newton get the idea that light had a particle nature and not a wave nature? At those times, AFAICT there were no phenomena that showed particle nature. But wave nature is much easier to ...
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304 views

how many times have the first photons lapped the universe?

I'm not really interested in the actual number of times, but rather an explanation of a closed Universe. How do we still measure the background radiation of the Big Bang? Those electromagnetic waves ...
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3answers
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Is visible light and radio waves made of the same thing?

I understand that there is such a thing as the electro magnetic spectrum, and that light and RF are both on it, so dose that mean that they are made of the same thing? Just at different frequencies.
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2answers
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A light flickers at a fast rate why do humans only see light on?

A light switches on and off at a fast rate, with equal time off and on, why do we see a light that appears only on rather than only off?
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178 views

Four questions on color

First, I apologize for being a mathematician and having no scientific background in physics. The following questions on color came up in a discussion at lunch and I would be very happy to get some ...
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3k views

How long does it take for radio or light waves to travel from Earth to Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto?

I know it roughly takes 20 minutes from Earth to Mars, and 8 minutes from the Sun to Earth, but don't know how long for the other planets on my list.
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3answers
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How to smooth the spectrum of a light source?

Could somebody please tell me if there's a reasonably cheap substance or device can I use to smooth the spectrum of a light source? For example, if the spectrum has spikes as in the blue graph below, ...
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1answer
127 views

Optical depth in astrophysics

How can be the exponential decay of the intensity $I$ via the optical depth $\tau$ be derived? $$I(\tau)=I(0)e^{-\tau} $$
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331 views

If we were to travel through space (sci-fi style), how close to the false-color images would the galaxies we see be?

I understand that the black-and-white images you see looking through a household telescope are only like that due to the intensity of the light that reaches us, and that most of the astronomy images ...
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1answer
429 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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What is the sun's spectral series?

My physics book says that six colors can be distinctly seen in white light: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. Does solar light only use these six wavelengths and mix them additively, or ...
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2answers
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If blue light has a higher energy than red light, why does it scatter more?

As $E=hf=\frac{hc}{\lambda}$, blue light - with a smaller wavelength - should have a higher energy. However, it is the case that blue light scatters the most. Why is it that higher energy rays scatter ...
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2answers
903 views

Why can you see a light in the location that the light source just left?

This is my first question on this site so forgive me for the awkward wording of the question. Basically, my question is why does light from, say, a sparkler, seem to remain where it just came from to ...
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2answers
57 views

Can we see refraction of light in the air with our eyes?

Can we see refraction of light in the air with our eyes? I am asking that because every night I see that the light in the street moving little is that because of change in the air? I do not mean ...
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2answers
110 views

Gravitational Effect Versus the Speed of Light [duplicate]

If, for some reason, the sun were to suddenly disappear altogether, I would like to know the following: would we "feel" it first (i.e. being thrown into outer space due to no longer having anything ...
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2answers
73 views

Can contemporary technology simulate the spectrum of a star?

The ability to manipulate light spectra (as in mercury lamps, sodium lamps, infra red) is within the ambit of contemporary technology. Stars are said to be unique in the spectrum they emit ; ...
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1answer
157 views

Refraction of light in water

Here's a question in a paper based on refraction of light. I can't seem to solve it for some reason. A man looks down at a fish length of 20 cm. His eye is 2m above the surface of the water ...
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2answers
139 views

Light in Different Reference Frames

I think I'm just confused, but for some reason I thought that light moving straight in one frame would have to move in the same direction in another frame. I know there are photons-but because I have ...
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1answer
196 views

Can light be canceled by merging with an inverted wave?

Can light waves be canceled by merging them with their inverted waves? Seems like it would violate conservation of energy but waves are added together when they overlap, right? Where is the flaw in ...
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1answer
130 views

Why the color motion picture film appears as black?

Why the color motion picture film, or a color photographic slide, appears as black? The film appears black but when the light from the projector lamp hit it then you can see all the colors.
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3answers
368 views

What was the motivation behind suggesting the trichromatic theory of vision?

Background In this thread, I asked whether it is true that the colors red, green and blue, through additive mixture, can make up any color. Turns out they can't. However, when reading about the ...
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2answers
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Wave / particle duality question for sound and light

Sound is usually referred to as just "sound waves" - we do not talk about a "sound particle" and only as a wave or "matter wave." Could something similar apply to light i.e. that there really is no ...
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3answers
60 views

Why can colors be mixed? [duplicate]

We can combine colored light, creating other colors, at least in terms of visual perception. But how it the result physically "a different color" - if it is at all? Or is all this not a physical ...
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2answers
45 views

How is the image in a mirror created without a lens or pinhole?

How is the image in a mirror created without a lens or pinhole? From every point in the world there are infinitely many rays going out. How come the image on a mirror is ok, when there is no pinhole ...
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2answers
69 views

Calculating the coherence length from a spectrum

I have measured the spectrum of the LED in my interferometry set-up, and now I want to calculate the coherence length from it. A commonly found formula is $l_{coh} = \frac{c}{\Delta f}$, sometimes ...
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2answers
67 views

How to produce a loss-free combination of two “identical” beams?

This is for anyone with experience in optics/imaging/photography as well as anyone who likes to puzzle over tricky physics problems. As the title suggests, this is about combining two (for all ...
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1answer
152 views

Polar ice caps and thermal radiation

I was reading an article on global warming and it said that the polar ice caps, because they are white, reflect a lot of the sun's radiation. The article also has a picture of some houses in England ...
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2answers
98 views

Penetration of light in the atmosphere

While I was considering an answer to this question, I wondered how much light that enters the atmosphere reaches the ground without colliding with air molecules—if any. I've taken a good bit of ...
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3answers
244 views

How does the solar sailing concept work?

Wikipedia describes solar sailing as a form of spacecraft propulsion using a combination of light and high speed ejected gasses from a star to push large ultra-thin mirrors to high speeds. I ...
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1answer
219 views

Solar energy and optical fiber

I'm not really good at science or physics, just wanted to ask about the idea (doesn't have an opportunity to test this). Will this scheme work and what can be its efficiency?(The goal is to make ...
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6answers
4k views

Limit of human eye flicker perception?

I am designing a LED dimmer using software-controlled Pulse Width Modulation, and want to know the minimum PWM frequency that I must reach to make that LED dimming method indistinguishable from ...
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1answer
636 views

Is traveling at the speed of light the same thing as teleportation?

If I were on one side of the room and moved at the speed of light to the other side of the room, to an observer it would appear that I teleported. If time stops at that speed, it would be ...
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2answers
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Is every ordinary coloured transparent paper an optical filter?

Can any red coloured transparent paper be used as an optical filter that only allows red colours through it?