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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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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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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What is the colour of starlight?

I'm interested to know the colour of starlight - particularly in rgb terms, I'm pressuming it's either white, or very close to white, but I'm interested to know how close. To make it slightly more ...
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why sometimes touching old flickering tube lights starts them properly

In my old house there are two old tube lights. Some times they don't start properly, (specially at evening time, may be it is because of low voltage), they starts flickering i.e. on and off ...
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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 blue-...
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Does light escape when I open my blinds?

When I open my blinds, there is light enough to read a book outside while the lamp is on inside. So when I close my blinds, does the light that otherwise will escape, stay inside and thus being ...
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What´s the origin of the four rays that come out of the reflection of candlelight in our TV?

The reflection of a candlelight in our TV shows four emerging rays. The rays vary spatial and periodical and have a repeating pattern of the colours of the rainbow. The further the flame is from the ...
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What would the RBG color value of an infinitely hot blackbody be?

In other words, what is the limit of the rgb values of color temperature as temperature approaches infinity? Put differently, what is the terminal point of the Planckian locus? Is there an exact value?...
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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 I ...
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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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What's the difference between dim and bright light?

When comparing two light sources, for example, a light bulb at 20W and a light bulb at 100W, what is it about the incoming light that makes the latter look brighter than the former? Are there ...
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Is the event horizon of black holes visibly sharp, or blurry?

As you come in closer to a black hole, how do you see the event horizon? Is it always like a clear-cut surface? Or it only looks clear-cut from a distance, but as you come closer to the black hole, ...
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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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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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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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What causes light to travel through a curved fountain of water?

Today I observed a tilted fountain spurting water upward (the water fell smoothly; no detectable turbulence). A colored light was shown upward into the water as it left its source. This light traveled ...
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Is a Perfect/Lossless Mirror possible?

In traditional mirrors, some of the input light is absorbed by atoms in the mirrors surface and are 'lost' as heat, degrading the quality of the reflected image. Could this loss be compensated by an ...
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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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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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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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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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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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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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4answers
490 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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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 wall....
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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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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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544 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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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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1answer
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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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1answer
83 views

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
331 views

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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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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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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1answer
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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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871 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
159 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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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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1answer
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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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Path of photon from Sun to earth unaltered? [duplicate]

I got into a discussion regarding the light from the Sun that reaches the Earth and whether it maintains the same path from the moment it was emitted to the point it is processed by our eyes. My ...
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6answers
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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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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?