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 exactly heats a pool of water on a sunny day

On a sunny day an outdoor swimming pool will heat up fairly quickly. My question is, what is the exact mechanism for this and can we put numerical figures on it? Given that water is clear and ...
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Why does earth look blue from outer space?

I know it's more than 70% water. But what has it got to do with earth's colour ?
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Newton's color Disk

How does Newton's color disk work? Newton's disk - Take a circular white color disk, make 7 equal intersections and paint section with respective VIBGYOR colors, now when you spin the disk in certain ...
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81 views

Why are UV protective eyeware Orange?

Many industrial processes use uv as a curing agent. When one uses such a process, one must protect one's eyes from the radiation. Most uv protective gear I have seen is tinted orange? Does this ...
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768 views

Why does light travel in a straight line through a liquid?

So I was reading a document that stated that when traveling through a material (I'll use a liquid here, maybe water), a photon actually always traveled at 300,000 km/s, it was just that it ...
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474 views

Question about the wave nature of light

I quote from my textbook, " Consider two vertical slits S1 and S2 placed parallel to each other, and a string is passed through them. The end B is fixed and A is given jerks perpendicular to its ...
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235 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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524 views

Why does the visible light spectrum appear to be circular [duplicate]

I'm not sure if this is an acceptable place to ask this question, as it may have more to do with the biological workings of human eyes than with the physical properties of light, but I'd rather hear a ...
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152 views

Layered CMOS structure question

I am trying to understand the workings of a CMOS image sensor. I understand that increasing wavelength results in an increased penetration depth in the silicon often used in CMOS image sensors. What ...
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521 views

Attenuation mass-thickness for sunset light

We are able to look directly at the sun near sunset and sunrise, which clearly demonstrates the fact that our atmosphere attenuates visible light. Let's imagine it follows the typical attenuation ...
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885 views

Does a quadrupole transition mean emission of one photon with spin 2?

If it's true and spin-2 photons do exist, could you please point to some literature that discusses spin-2 photons? If not, then how exactly does a selection rule for quadrupole transition make sense ...
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603 views

3D movie glasses making white light look red and blue

While waiting for a 3D movie to start, I was playing with the glasses they give you. I understand each lens has different polarized filters, so the left and right superimposed images on the screen go ...
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Transparency of solids using bandgaps and relation to conduction and valence bands

I think I understand how a solid can appear transparent as long as the energy of the photons travelling through it are not absorbed in the material's bandgap. But how does this band gap relate to ...
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Strength of moonlight

So I read this xkcd, and thought it was kind of cool. However, I showed it to my engineer father and physics undergrad brother and neither seem to find the explanation very convincing (though they ...
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5answers
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How is it possible for the wavelength of light to change in a medium?

So my physics class has just finished a long unit on optics while at the same time I've been trying to teach myself relativity. I admit my understanding is probably rudimentary, but I figured all the ...
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1answer
85 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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2answers
209 views

Would there be fringe pattern in this arrangement?

Figure shows a standard two slit arrangement with slits S1, S2. P1, P2 are the two minima points on either side of P. At P2 on the screen, there is a hole and behind P2 is a second 2- slit arrangement ...
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Is the color wheel just an optical illusion? [duplicate]

As a kid, I was taught that that blue and yellow make green, yellow and red make orange, and red and blue make purple - forming the subtractive color wheel. As an adolescent I was taught that blue and ...
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Why is glass much more transparent than water?

There is a related question (Why glass is transparent?) but I am coming at it only from Maxwell's equations. One can determine the skin depth $δ$ for poor conductors like (pure) water and glass using ...
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Converting spectra to rgb colour

I am having trouble obtaining RGB colour values from the spectra of an object. I have the specific flux $F_\nu$ as a function of $\nu$ for each pixel of the image I'd like to make, but am unsure of ...
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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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810 views

What will be the relative speed of a photon in a light ray to another photon of opposite direction light ray?

If two light rays start simultaneously in the space from exactly opposite ends in opposite direction that is separated by a distance of 600000 km in a way they meet at the mid point (300000 km from ...
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1answer
155 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 ...
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3answers
197 views

How would I perceive a purple ball when traveling at relativistic speeds

I have a 'thought experiment' which I'd like to ask about. I was thinking what speed I would have to drive towards a crossing to see a red light as a green light - pretty easy, using the doppler ...
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Refraction and scattered light for NLCs

For helping with judging NLC candidates (are they NLC or not) I have a set of formulas to calculate the minimum altitude (in km) of the candidate given an observed altitude (in degrees) of the ...
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6answers
298 views

Explain the notion of light/electromagnetic waves/photons to a non-physicist

A non-physicist asked me about special relativity. My explanations naturally were based on gedankenexperiments involving light. This forced the question: "What is light? It is particles, isn't? Or is ...
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Light wave crossing media and the relationship between speed, wavelength, and frequency

There are many threads on this topic (like this one) but one aspect about the equation $ v = \lambda\nu $ still confuses me. I have read that frequency does not change when light crosses into ...
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How do I see things of the bright room, being in the dark room?

Visible light emitted or reflected from the objects around us provides information about the world. If I sit in a dark room, and see the bright room outside, I am able to see all the objects of ...
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Radio antenna producing waves in the visible spectrum [closed]

If a radio could produce waves in the visible light spectrum, what would the result be? This is a thought experiment that I've pondered for a few years now. I realize there are a few/many real-world ...
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3answers
988 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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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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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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509 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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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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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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406 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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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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Why Does The Moon Apear White/Grayish and The Sun Yellow? [duplicate]

The Sun, as we all know, is white. Because our atmosphere scatters light the sun appears yellow to us hear on earth. So, why isn't the moon also yellow. Doesn't our atmosphere scatter its light. How ...
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585 views

Why do hot objects prefer to emit photons over electrons ? Is there electron-positron annihilation?

Why do hot objects prefer to emit photons over electrons ? Is there electron-positron annihilation ? If so , why ? Im confused by this.
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Sensitivity of eye

In which color human eye is most sensitive?
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Why aren't the hottest stars mostly invisible due to radiating mostly in ultra-violet? [duplicate]

The hottest stars have surface temperatures in the range of 40,000K. Wolfram Alpha says that such a star acting as a black body should radiate almost no energy in the visible spectrum. Why then do ...
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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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Computations using light

I recently found out about analog computers. They really intrigue me. I've seen a few videos on how mechanical computers work. I also know that there are electric analog computers too (I have no clue ...
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816 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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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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Why human and most of vertebrates cannot see Near-Infrared light (720nm-1500nm)? [closed]

On daytime, the surface of Earth is illuminated abundantly by light of spectrum from 250nm-1500nm, that includes near-ultraviolet spectrum (250nm-380nm), visible spectrum (380nm-720nm) and ...
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3answers
842 views

Why can I split white light into separate colors with my eyes

I was sitting in a meeting at work today. When I looked up there was a projector facing the rear wall letting out a very bright white light (the projection). When I look right at it, all I could ...
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Can light travel slower than the maximum?

First of all, I know that light does indeed travel slower in a medium like air or water, but that's because the photons are bouncing off of the medium's particles and in different directions so the ...
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486 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 ...