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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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
250 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
121 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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1answer
138 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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1answer
94 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
376 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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1answer
390 views

Different colors in LED/LCD display when viewed from different angle?

I want to know why different colours appear when viewed with a different angle. Can anyone tell me why?
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1answer
992 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
284 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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1answer
502 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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0answers
29 views

Does light escape from highly dense bodies [duplicate]

If it were possible to launch a projectile at the speed of light from a body with the mass equal to that of our sun but a density such that its escape velocity was the speed of light how far would it ...
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2answers
109 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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0answers
63 views

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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0answers
51 views

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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0answers
125 views

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
241 views

Bending of light from a moving light source

First I will have to explain my question. Look at the image below. This shows doppler shift when an object is moving horizontally to the direction of the wave. Keep the word 'horizontally' in mind. ...
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5answers
2k views

Eye sensitivity & Danger signal

Why are danger signal in red, when the eye is most sensitive to yellow-green? You can check luminosity function for more details...
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4answers
436 views

Is it true that gravitational lensing only occurs for objects made of plasma?

The question concerns this video: It says that the Gravitational Lens effect is an illusion, meaning it's not caused by gravity but by change in density of a plasma atmosphere. It claims further ...
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5answers
343 views

If you shoot a light beam behind the event horizon of a black hole, what happens to the light?

I have a couple of questions about light here, and sorry of they are silly.. So since anything that goes beyond the event horizon can't go out, so what if a light beam was pointed somewhere behind ...
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1answer
311 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
2k views

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
1k views

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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3answers
188 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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1answer
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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1answer
370 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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3answers
97 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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1answer
497 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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1answer
199 views

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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1answer
248 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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2answers
3k views

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
961 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
95 views

Is it possible to have a perfectly black material?

After reading this NASA article about the "blackest material", the following stuck out to me. The tiny gaps between the tubes absorb 99.5 percent of the light that hits them Is it possible to ...
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1answer
99 views

When photons are emitted, do they accelerate to reach the speed of light? [duplicate]

Photons are considered mass-less particle with a specific velocity but according to the electromagnetic theory, a photon is considered to have both energy and momentum. So what happen when they are ...
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2answers
67 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
122 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
80 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
183 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
154 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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2answers
803 views

Is there still light in practical darkness? Do photons penetrate everywhere?

I always thought that, even in darkness, there would still be some light, making complete darkness, i.e. complete absence of photons as far as I know, just a theoretical thing. When I tried looking up ...
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1answer
132 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
389 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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1answer
736 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
2k views

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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1answer
71 views

Why do i see bright red hand when i place flashlight behind my hand?

When I place a working flashlight behind my hand, I see my hand bright red because of the light. So my question is, why do I only see red light after transmission even if incoming light from the ...
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1answer
57 views

Would white light waves act as same as monochromatic waves in double slit experiment?

Would white light waves act as same as monochromatic waves in double slit experiment? If not, what pattern would be seen on the screen?
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3answers
93 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
96 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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4answers
119 views

How do we demonstrate that all spectral colors exist in nature?

Spectral emission by elements occurs in discrete wavelengths. There are only about 118 elements. My question is whether there are pure colors either disfavored in nature or even disallowed? The sun ...
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2answers
76 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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2answers
189 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 ...