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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Is the number of rays projected by a source of light finite?

Take a source of light which gives out infinite number of rays, each ray with finite number of photons and each photon with a finite amount of energy, Then, Aren't the number of photons become ...
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3answers
587 views

Why does Snell's law not factor in wavelength?

If dispersion is caused due to different wavelengths bending with different angles, how is Snell's law right in generalizing it as $\sin(i) / \sin(r)$? Or am I missing something?
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217 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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6k views

Why does light always travel in a straight line?

No matter the frame light is in, it always moves in a straight line in that frame. Why is that? It doesn't seem like something to me that should necessarily be true. If some one runs forward and sends ...
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552 views

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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450 views

Why doesn't a ray of light have enough momentum to make us fall?

Why can't light be so powerful that it has enough momentum to make us fall?
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1k views

Do x-rays and gamma rays also contain photons like visible light does?

Do x-rays and gamma rays also contain photons like visible light does? If so, then what makes photons of visible light and other waves different? The rest mass of a photon is zero, but as it moves at ...
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Why are most accurate reflective surfaces not white?

Since white is our perception of reflection of light, why are mirrors and other metallic objects that are more grey or silvery capable more reflective than a white object? This is somewhat related: ...
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382 views

Seeing one's back on the event horizon

If we would hypothetically be exactly on the event horizon, we should see our own back, because of the circular motion of photons on the event horizon, right? But what would be the image size, or $-$ ...
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333 views

Is it possible to transfer light from edge to edge of transparent material?

I don't know much about physics but i believe that this is the place to ask my question. I'm using 3 monitor setup like this: the plastic bezels [ ] are extremely annoying. in order to make them ...
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3answers
214 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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2answers
990 views

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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282 views

Sensitivity of eye

In which color human eye is most sensitive?
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858 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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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
380 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
549 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
832 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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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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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
494 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
915 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
48 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
151 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
128 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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3k 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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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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61 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
115 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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1answer
443 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
660 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
849 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
47 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
505 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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489 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
634 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
371 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
227 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
208 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
210 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
352 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
49 views

What causes these rainbow effects using a polarizing filter on an airplane?

I know that light reflected from a surface at 45° is polarized and that for a similar reason skylight arriving from a direction orthogonal to the sun is polarized too. Photographers make use of this ...
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1answer
84 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
110 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
118 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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752 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
191 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
744 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
10k 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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Interference and windows

The other day i was learning about interference patterns with the effect of a bubble making a rainbow on the surface. I learned that the reflections from both sides of the soap can interfere ...