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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At what distance could you see andromeda with the naked eye?

We've all seen the telescope photographs of andromeda galaxy: I'm wondering if it were possible to travel close enough to the andromeda galaxy could you achieve a same perspective with the naked ...
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2answers
276 views

Sensitivity of eye

In which color human eye is most sensitive?
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1answer
4k views

Purple doesn't occur in rainbow - or does it?

Usually, when asked whether the purple color exists rainbows, an answer similar to this is given: The purple color is perceived by human eyes via the activation of both red-sensitive and ...
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2answers
321 views

Reflected and refracted light have same frequency as that of the incident light frequency. Why?

My text book says- When a monochromatic light is incident on a surface separating two media, the refracted and reflected light both have the same frequency as the incident frequency. Can anyone ...
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1answer
537 views

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
704 views

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
791 views

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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2answers
1k views

Can a dot of light travel faster than the speed of light? [duplicate]

Say I have a laser. If I spin the laser so that the beam sweeps in an arc along a very distant object, could that dot travel faster than the speed of light? In Diagram form:
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2answers
505 views

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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1answer
1k views

Why do most metals appear silver in color with gold being an exception from a scattering and EM viewpoint?

Related: Why are most metals gray/silver? After reading Johannes’ impressive answer to Ali Abbasinasab question of why do most metals appear silver in color with the exception of gold (and copper), ...
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1answer
439 views

Very large absorption lines in stellar spectrum

I was puzzled by the wide absorption lines in a stellar spectrum I found. The following is what I expect absorption lines to look like - thin, crisp lines: However, I found this stellar spectrum, ...
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3answers
882 views

Why do electrons around nucleus radiate light according to classical physics

As I navigate through physics stackexchange, I noticed Electron model under Maxwell's theory. Electrons radiate light when revolving around nucleus? Why is it so obvious? Note that I do not know ...
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1answer
46 views

Do all narrowband filters tint the field of view?

I observed color in a nebula for the first time this past weekend when looking at the Ring Nebula through my Orion XT8. I noticed a bit of red on the outer edges. I placed my Orion Ultrablock ...
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2answers
139 views

A light so strong it has a shadow

I have recently taken an interest in shadows. I know that in order for a shadow to exist that you must have a solid in the way of the light. My hypothesis is that there can be a light so strong, like ...
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2answers
116 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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2answers
2k views

Why does the Sun feel hotter through a window?

I have this big window in my room that the Sun shines through every morning. When I wake up I usually notice that the Sunlight coming through my window feels hot. Much hotter than it normally does ...
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1answer
55 views

How can absorption spectra form if atoms can't remain in an excited state?

I have been tasked to write a research paper on stars. However, I know very little about physics in general. I am learning about how we can glean information about stars by analyzing the light that ...
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1answer
111 views

Detecting a light ray without disturbing it

If I have a light ray trapped between two very reflective surfaces such that the light ray doesn't dissipate, how exactly can I know that there IS a light ray there, without disturbing it? As far as ...
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2answers
183 views

Is manufacturing roughness really the only reason we don't see optical interference in thick dielectrics like windows?

I had always kind of wondered why we didn't see interference in things like windows -- we were taught that the condition is that the thickness of the film/slab/medium just has to be an integral number ...
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2answers
359 views

Why does welding produce UV light?

Looking directly at a welder is dangerous because large amounts of UV light is produced. What makes this light? Is it electrons from the current that excites metal atoms, and these atoms sends out UV ...
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1answer
329 views

Why does the Sun turn red near sunset?

At daytime the Sun's light is yellowish if not near white. Why when the Sun starts to go down that it's light turn more red. I don't think the earth's rotation is so rapid to cause a red shift. Why ...
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2answers
583 views

Ways of achieving parallel rays of light?

I am thinking of ways of achieving parallel rays of light. Let's say I have an object that emits light, for instance the display of my mobile phone. The display emits rays of light in every ...
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2answers
723 views

Does diffraction occur before interference?

In the double slit experiment, light passes through two slits and the waves interfere and form an interference pattern. A single slit is required for diffraction. So, I was thinking about whether ...
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1answer
43 views

Shadow of a ripple?

Suppose a stone is thrown into a pool of crystal clear water and its a bright sunshiny morning. You can observe a shadow of the wave in the bottom of the pool. Why does this happen? Is it due to ...
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2answers
402 views

Why slightly closing your eyes let you see the rainbow colors?

So I was sitting and looked at a street lamp outside my house. It is an ordinary lamp that looks something like that: This lamp emits white light and it is about 20 meters from my house. It was ...
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4answers
450 views

Why do the passing objects' shadows run in the direction of the moving train?

While travelling in the train on the sunset, I have noticed the strange phenomenon. The shadows of the lonely trees and lampposts, that stay along the railroad, are moving on the wall in the same ...
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1answer
565 views

Why same formula describing Doppler effect in the case of light in different situations?

I made comparison between Doppler effect in light and sound and one interesting thing that I saw was that in the case of sound there are different formulas to find the apparent frequency in different ...
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1answer
365 views

Photons arriving from the Sun

Given that the Sun is a bit less than 10 light minutes away from Earth, is it correct to assume in principle (I understand actual processes in the core of the Sun make the situation at a photon's ...
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4answers
224 views

Why does it require such little energy to create the fastest thing in the universe?

I have noticed when I turn on the light switch in my house light comes from the bulb. How is this light created?(process occurring in the bulb) and why is this small amount of electricity enough to ...
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2answers
200 views

What are the lines visible between two cards held edge-to-edge?

Hold two cards (say credit cards) edge to edge, anything from a very slight touch to about 1/3 mm separation, in front of any ordinary light source. When I do this I see several fine dark parallel ...
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1answer
208 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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1answer
337 views

Lunar twilight and sixth magnitude stars

Summary: when the Moon is x degrees below the horizon, it interferes with stargazing the same as astronomical twilight would. What is x (as a function of the Moon's phase)? We define civil, ...
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1answer
65 views

Why “colours” of light are given in wavelength not frequency?

If I understand correctly, when a beam of (monochromatic) light passes through media of different refractive indices, its wavelength changes but frequency remains constant. Why, then, are colours of ...
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2answers
104 views

Is there something equivalent to a diode for light?

In electronics a diode is a component allowing current passing in only one direction, and blocking the other side. I'm wondering if something similar exists for visible light or other EM waves, like ...
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1answer
1k views

What common materials absorb most infrared light?

I'm competing in a simple robotics competition where most of the participants use reflected infrared light to detect their opponent. I'd like to make my own robot as difficult to see as possible. What ...
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1answer
111 views

If I'm running away from chasing gamma photons, I can see them, right?

Suppose Bruce Banner goes back in time, convinced that the Hulk is a stupid menace. Let's say he also borrows Quicksilver's speed abilities (maybe the Flash is more appropriate, but based on the ...
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3answers
630 views

Does optical fiber preserve the angles of incoming light?

I am reading up on optical fibers and there's one thing I haven't understood yet: Does an optical fiber preserve the angles of incoming light? For example, if we light two LEDs in front of an ...
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2answers
183 views

Is light's path a wave?

In a lot of textbooks I see a schematic of light drawn as a squiggly line. I have even heard that some things are too small to be seen because they are smaller than the wavelength of light (and ...
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1answer
658 views

Does light induce an electric current in a conductor?

I know that electromagnetic waves induce electric currents in conductors and that's the basis for radio, wi-fi etc. I also know that light is also an electromagnetic wave. So, can light induce a ...
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3answers
9k views

Why can't light pass through walls but sound can?

When I sit in a room I can hear voices coming from the adjacent room but the light in adjacent room does not enter my room i.e. sound waves travels through the wall but light waves can't. Why?
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1answer
60 views

Why is it hard to make black clothes?

I've noticed that we have so-called 'black' clothes everywhere, I haven't seen so far any piece of clothes that would be really black, it's always some kind of lighter black. For instance, if you ...
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1answer
282 views

If atoms have specific energy levels, why do opaque solids absorb all visible light, not just some? [duplicate]

Here's my question: if atoms have well defined energy levels and those differences correspond to the frequencies of light that can be absorbed, how is it that opaque objects absorb all or most visible ...
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2answers
604 views

Difference between Scattering and Fluorescence

It is often said that substances, objects have color because they selectively absorb all color of sunlight except one. The wavelength that is not absorbed reaches our eyes and we perceive it as ...
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3answers
794 views

Real image with converging lens?

I read in a AQA GCSE book that: A real image is formed by the converging lens if the object is further away from the principal focus/focal point. I did this experiment in class: Here is my ...
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2answers
559 views

Does thin film interference (anti-reflective coating) let more light through?

The theory of an anti-reflective coating is that the reflected light off the coating and the reflected light off the substrate is 180 degrees out of phase, causing destructive interference and ...
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1answer
443 views

Young's double slit experiment viva question

My professor asked me (in my viva exam), "If, in the Fraunhofer single slit diffraction experiment, if we have 2 slits instead of one (at very short distances), What would happen?" I answered with ...
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3answers
2k views

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
2k views

Can 2 beams of ultraviolet light intersect and be visible where they intersect?

Is it possible that if you have 2 ultraviolet lasers, that are invisible to the human eye, and if you aim their beams to intersect at some point, that the place of intersection will show a lower ...
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1answer
67 views

Experimental determination of speed of light

How is the speed of light measured by the most current method i.e. using lasers and atomic clocks? Alternatively, is there a better method?
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1answer
89 views

How do mirrors look & behave atomically?

I was observing mirrors recently and I was thinking about how an mirror would look atomically. I was always used to looking at atoms as being colored that said, I was always concerned at how they ...