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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What creates black streams in fountain-type fireworks?

For the New Year celebration of 2014, my nephews set off a series of fountain-type fireworks (as shown below). When one looks carefully into the shower of light, one notices that a fair number of ...
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2answers
458 views

Why is the blue color of sky darker in high altitude regions?

I read that as the air density is lower at high altitudes, the scattering is less, hence the darker blue but then other colors are scattering lesser than blue, why don't we see a darker shade of the ...
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1answer
90 views

Can Massless Particles Have Dimensions? [duplicate]

We have been taught that anything occupying space/volume has mass. Light has both a particle nature-photon and wave nature. Since It has an momentum of h/λ, energy of hc/λ. Since a photon carries ...
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1answer
36 views

Diffraction from interatomic spacing

In diffraction from a single slit, we learn that the angular width of the central maxima, is given by $2\sin^{-1}\frac \lambda d$. For $d\approx \lambda$, the incoming wavefront should be spread to ...
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4answers
290 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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16 views

What is the amount of EM energy from the sun reaching the earth as a function of wavelength?

The question stems from a desire to know if more light from the sun in the infrared wavelengths has more energy than light at say yellow or violet wavelengths - at the Earth's surface. I'm guessing a ...
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1answer
145 views

Why can't we see things swallowed by black holes?

Apologies in advance, I'm a layman with only a school-level education in physics. If an object approaching the event horizon of a black hole has its light cone progressively bent towards the black ...
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1answer
73 views

What is the intrinsic colour of the star? [closed]

Hey I have this question and I am wrestling with it all day and I am completely lost. The V magnitude of a star is 15.1, B-V =1.6, and absolute magnitude Mv= 1.3 The extinction in the direction of ...
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1answer
100 views

Polarisation of light is a wave concept or applicable to photons as well?

I have a very fundamental question. We explain polarisation of light assuming wave nature of light. Is it still valid if we assume light as photons? Or in other words, polarisation is a wave concept ...
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7answers
393 views

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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1answer
83 views

Young's DS experiment and most light sources

The reason why two independent bulbs cannot be used to create the young's two slit interference pattern is that the phase difference between those two sources varies very rapidly and therefore, the ...
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3answers
188 views

Is everyone seeing the same color as I see? [duplicate]

As the cone cells are different in numbers in people, how can we say that everyone is seeing the color as same? for example the color you are saying as red may be not the one i see as red..
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1answer
84 views

When was it established light travels forever?

The range of electromagnetic radiation is indefinite. When was that established? Doesn't Hubble's limit have an effect?
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2answers
3k views

Is black a color or absence of color? [closed]

Is black a color or absence of color? When there is no light, everything is black, so how can we say that black is a color?
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2answers
63 views

Can a broken light filter shift the wavelength of light exiting it?

I've measured the wavelength of light emitted from a red Helium–Neon laser passing through a red intensity filter (indirectly, by fitting a function to a single slit diffraction pattern, then forcing ...
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3answers
468 views

What color would you see if you place 2 mirrors in opposit when one is a one way mirror

What would you see if you have 2 huge mirrors (you cant look over it or next to it) You place them with the reflecting side to each other and you look in the mirror from behind one mirror (one way ...
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0answers
23 views

Electromagnet emitting light [duplicate]

We all know that (visible for human) light essentially is an electromagnetic wave with a frequency around 1/((any value between 380 and 760)*pow(10,9)) Hertz. So, if we will build (hypothetically) ...
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0answers
88 views

How to get “massless” equation of motion from the action of Nordstrom scalar field theory?

There is Nordstrom theory of the particle moving in a scalar field $\varphi (x)$: $$ S = -m\int e^{\varphi (x)}\sqrt{\eta_{\alpha \beta}\frac{dx^{\alpha}}{d \lambda}\frac{dx^{\beta}}{d ...
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1answer
58 views

Question about the refraction of Fresnel lenses

If you line up the suns rays parallel to a Fresnel lens, the light is concentrated, and the focus directly underneath. However, what happens if the sun is off to the side, making the light hit at an ...
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3answers
3k views

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 ...
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1answer
51 views

The resolution limit for lithography in practice?

For a given wavelength of light $\lambda$, and a given numerical aperture (NA), I always see the statement in papers/etc. that we can perform lithographic patterning at the Rayleigh limit given by ...
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1answer
53 views

How to calculate the heat of a metal?

Lets say I leave 100g of copper outside under a convex lens that is 1m squared in surface area (I've been told that 1m2 of sunlight equals 1Kw). How would I figure out the temperature reached for a ...
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0answers
70 views

Spreading UV light? Fresnel lenses?

I'm making a little UV exposure box and I'm looking for a way to evenly spread out the UV light. I've used Fresnel lenses to do just this in the past, but that was for visible light. But from what ...
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3answers
133 views

Do electromagnetic waves have endpoints?

When learning about electromagnetic waves at school we never talked about any endpoints as we did with standing waves, so I assumed that light has an endless length, but that doesn't make sense. So my ...
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0answers
29 views

Are “phase-specific” masks ever used in the context of double exposure lithography? Can these sorts of things exist?

I was recently reading an 08' paper on double exposure lithography: and I was wondering if there existed some material that could be used to create a mask for e.g. a 193 nm light source that was only ...
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1answer
41 views

Why isn't ray optics applicable for marginal rays?

I have been studying light and going a little bit ahead I studied about ray optics and one thing each book had in notes is ray optics is applicable only for paraxial rays not marginals rays, I was ...
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1answer
492 views

Why does light travel at finite speed? [duplicate]

We have known for quite some time now that light travels at a finite speed of 3x10^8m/s (approx) through vacuum. But why is that? Why can't the speed be infinite? Or at least higher than the current ...
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2answers
85 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
79 views

How is the orientation of an electromagnetic wave determined?

I was looking up for how polarisers work, I understood mostly everything except the part that explains that the polariser filters everything except light that is in a certain orientation. Here are my ...
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1answer
569 views

Didn't Newton's Corpuscular theory fail to explain reflection?

In 1637 Descartes gave the corpuscular model of light and derived Snell's law. This Corpuscular model of light was further developed by Isaac Newton in his famous book entitled OPTICKS and because of ...
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3answers
232 views

Does brightness of the light remains constant with the variation of the distance with respect to the source in vaccum?

I have this question going in my mind from many days, i.e why brightness of light emitted from any light source around us decreases with distance? The brightness of light from tube light, streetlight, ...
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2answers
63 views

What gives an object its colour?

My understanding of colour is that atoms in a particular object will absorb certain wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation, and the scattered wavelengths give the object its colour. The absorbed ...
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3answers
101 views

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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2answers
357 views

Can a glass window protect from heat radiation?

I have been reading in this and found a statement saying : " Glass will not transmit heat radiation.". So now I am confused. If glass won't transmit heat radiation, then why do we feel hot when we sit ...
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0answers
29 views

Light pulses and energy-time uncertainty principle [duplicate]

Suppose we have a monochromatic light beam. We put an obstacle between source and observer and remove it repeatedly by certain frequency such that observer sees an oscillating intensity of light. Will ...
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1answer
166 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
181 views

Is Huygen's Principle Axiomatic?

Is Huygens Principle just a fundamental way to understand light? It always seemed to me that it was somehow "derived" or that it should be-but is it simply a well-founded theory?
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1answer
132 views

The effect of dark lines in the Sun's spectrum on reflected paint/ color

Its well known that the Sun's spectrum is not continuous, and that there are dark bands within the suns spectrum. Is it possible to produce a color of paint that is bright in, say, indoor lighting and ...
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2answers
82 views

What is the transmittance function of a photo filter?

The effect of some photo filters can be summarized in transmission curves such as this one: I do not understand which physical value is modified by the value labeled as "Diffuse Density" in the ...
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3answers
901 views

All objects radiate energy, but we cannot see all objects in the dark. Why?

We claim that all objects radiate energy by virtue of their temperature and yet we cannot see all objects in the dark. Why not?
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1answer
286 views

How would neutron matter appear to the naked eye?

Neutron matter is matter comprised entirely of neutrons, as it exists in neutron stars. Most optical phenomena encountered in everyday life, such as light reflection and spectral absorption (i.e. ...
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1answer
45 views

Visible Lines for Hydrogen

Say H atoms are excited to 4th level, n=4 that is, how many lines do we see? How to decide the number of the lines?
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1answer
343 views

Infinite fringes in double-slit interference

My professor told us that the fringes formed by interference will always be countable or finite. But I am just wondering, if, it is possible to have infinite fringes? Is there such a case? I am ...
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1answer
291 views

Polarized sunglasses: should the axes in both lenses be parallel?

See the pictures below. A pair of sunglasses I recently purchased has the polarization axis in one lens offset about 20 degrees (by eyeball estimation) from the other. I don't have much experience ...
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1answer
113 views

What gives substances their color?

As far as i know (i may be wrong!), substances appear to have a definite color because they reflect/ transmit all the light rays of the given color, and absorb all the lights rays of the remaining ...
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1answer
85 views

Radio vs optical telescope imaging

As I understand, the visible light from an optical telescope is focused on a sensor which correlates light exposure to an electrical voltage, which is then converted to an image. A single antenna ...
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3answers
397 views

Reflections in Rearview Mirror

Why is it that in the reflection in the rear view mirror of your vehicle in the car behind you The driver is on the drivers side and the passenger is on the passenger side and when they raise thier ...
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0answers
39 views

Why is condensed milk glowing green under UV?

Teeth, nails and also сгущёнка (condensed milk) are glowing green when exposed to black light. What do they have in common? Is it a specific luminophore substance?
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2answers
58 views

Temperature-induced wavelength shift of optical coatings?

Optical coatings designed for reflection or anti-reflection are made of many thin layers which will expand when heated. What will the effect be on the wavelengths the coating will reflect when the ...
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1answer
96 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 ...