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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Refractive Index formula for denser to rarer medium

I learnt that the formula for refractive index when light travels from rarer to denser medium is $$\frac{\sin i }{ \sin r}$$ where $i =$ angle of incidence, $r =$ angle of refraction. Is the same ...
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2answers
32 views

How do you convert RGB lux into a singular value?

I'm trying to understand the output from an RGBW optical sensor. According to the specification for the sensor this outputs lux. I was hoping someone could explain how the 3 RGB lux values relate to ...
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1answer
30 views

What would the rainbow look like if we could see the full EM spectrum? [duplicate]

Would the rainbow look different if we could see the full EM spectrum (or at least a lot more of it)? Would the width of a rainbow be bigger and would all wave lengths of light be in a rainbow?
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1answer
27 views

Light / TEM wave in a hollow waveguide

I'm cramming for my EMF exam, and a question came up: Light in free space is an example for a TEM wave, isn't it? (Maybe thats already my mistake) And we learned that in a hollow waveguide only TE ...
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2answers
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“X-rays”, “gamma rays”, “sun rays”… But electromagnetic waves are NOT rays and DO NOT consist of rays?

In a separate question I'm struggling to figure out the nature of EM waves. But it's a vast topic and I'm trying to narrow it down to small specific questions. It turns out that all electromagnetic ...
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1answer
78 views

Why would a sweeping LIDAR or RADAR beam not produce an artificial Doppler shift?

Assuming a bi-static Radar or LIDAR with a stationary transmitter and a stationary target and a stationary receiver, with a sweeping RADAR/LIDAR beam reflecting off a stationary target: Why would the ...
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1answer
27 views

How to combine contributions of individual type of cone cell sensitivity to get the human luminosity function?

As shown in this figure from some computer vision book: The data of three types of cone spectral responses is pulled down from: http://cvrl.ioo.ucl.ac.uk/cones.htm It is said that the Long, Medium ...
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0answers
31 views

Point View and the relativity of everything, also regarding seemingly neutral pen and paper formulas - also, the nonexistence of black holes [on hold]

I am just a programmer with a love for math/physics and ... science fiction, haha! Anyway, to state it right in the beginning: This question is related to the following postulation (of mine, but ...
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9answers
7k views

Why do solar panels not have focusing mirrors?

Most of the solar panels that I have seen do not have any mirrors, etc., but usually solar cookers have mirrors. What is the reason for solar panels not having focusing mirrors?
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1answer
39 views

Why do night sky appear red when it is cloudy?

Since childhood, I have seen that whenever at night, the sky is cloudy, the sky becomes red. But, clouds are grayish, so it is expected that the sky becomes more darker. But no, it is not! Why does ...
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1answer
30 views

Determining path of light through a nanolens

In the case of light passing through stacked liquids, we can use a ray approximation of the path of light to determine the path taken through each layer of liquid using Snell's law. From all the ...
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1answer
75 views

How can radiation be a transverse wave? Does light really resemble a rope? How can a 3D field be a medium for non-spatial 1D waves? Need mental model

I understand longitudinal waves. For example, I've got a clear mental modal of air waves: a slice of air becomes overcompressed, then the slice next to it becomes overcompressed and the first slice ...
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5answers
9k views

Why is the sky never green? It can be blue or orange, and green is in between!

I, like everybody I suppose, have read the explanations why the colour of the sky is blue: ... the two most common types of matter present in the atmosphere are gaseous nitrogen and oxygen. ...
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1answer
4k views

What common materials absorb most infrared light?

I'm competing in a simple robotics competition where most of the participants use reflected infrared light to detect their opponent. I'd like to make my own robot as difficult to see as possible. What ...
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3answers
66 views

Path of light as it travels between two black holes

What would happen to light passing through a narrow space between the event horizons of two equal-mass black holes? Would it deviate or follow a straight path?
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3answers
35 views

Diffuse laser light in a surface

Im building a laser target. It consists of a box, with a black plexiglass circle in the center of one of its sides, and a larger white circle around it. The black for the inside shots, and the white ...
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2answers
4k views

Why does mixing every paint colour produce gray instead of white?

I'm trying to reconcile these facts, If I had paints of the primary colours and I mixed them together, I would produce gray. White light contains every colour. My most convincing attempt to ...
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1answer
96 views

Why do we use the index of refraction for yellow light?

When we do problems with optics and refraction, we’re usually given a set of indices of refraction to work with; for example, the index of refraction in air is about 1.00, the index of refraction in ...
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1answer
50 views

Do parallel rays reflecting at a mirror not intersect at one point? [closed]

Let's take a concave mirror with $CP$ as its principal axis. Let's assume that a parallel ray $p$ to $CP$ reflects at $A$ to pass through the focal point $F$. Then, $\angle CAF=\angle ACF$, which ...
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2answers
143 views

Why does projecting black light from a screen mask white light shining through it?

I had a Macbook Pro, and remember being intrigued when I noticed that the apple logo on the back of the screen allowed sunlight to shine through in an Apple shape on the front of the screen when ...
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1answer
38 views

Brightness of light sources

I would like to know what determines the brightness of light.I'm confused,After hours of reading i got these definitions mixed up i need to link them together : Light intensity Brightness of light ...
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2answers
219 views

Light-matter interaction and an object's appearance

I am taking a course in Computer Graphics, and the teacher said we could put materials in there main categories: mirror like glossy or specular diffuse He suggested that the law of reflection is ...
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1answer
50 views

Polarization vector identity in Minkowski space?

Playing around with numerical light-like momenta $p^\mu_1,p^\mu_2$ (light-like meaning ${p_1}^\mu {p_1}_\mu={p_2}^\mu {p_2}_\mu=0$) and corresponding polarization vectors ...
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0answers
27 views

How to actually determine the Index of Refraction of an object in different colors of light?

I would like some guidance as to how the IOR of an object is determined in different colored lights. Taking for example diamond, I know that the base IOR is 2.417, and the respective wavelengths of ...
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3answers
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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5answers
204 views

What about a surface determines its color?

Light falls on a surface. Some wavelengths get absorbed. The other are reflected. The reflected ones are the colors that we perceive to be of the surface. What is the property that determines, what ...
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0answers
21 views

Variations in electric field of a light speed charged particle

From the question " Is there a travelling speed of for electric field? If yes, what is it?" I get to know electric field propagates at speed of light. What if a charged particle which creates this ...
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2answers
418 views

Finding the illuminance from a triangular light source

Since most light sources in games are point-like, it's pretty difficult to approximate area light sources with point sources. As triangles are a universal form to represent 3D models (thus area light ...
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1answer
36 views

Is crystal diffraction actually diffraction?

It seems like a very common model that is taught in schools for crystal diffraction is that there is an incident plane wave of light on a crystal lattice, and each atom in the lattice scatters the ...
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4answers
859 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
188 views

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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5answers
4k views

Eye sensitivity & Danger signal [duplicate]

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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2answers
2k views

Why doesn't my pinhole camera work?

We all know that light travels in straight a line, which can be proved by pinhole imaging as in the picture shown : But when I'm doing this little experiment with an apple, no matter how I change ...
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0answers
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Propagation of force thought experiment [duplicate]

Imagine you have a million rigid spheres lined up edge to edge in a way that they can only move in one direction. now imagine that there is a wall at one end of this alignment. If you were to push at ...
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1answer
34 views

Is there a formula to calculate the deviated angle of a ray passing through a prism?

I'm assuming the angle of incidence to be the number of degrees from a perpendicular line on the side of a prism the ray starts passing through... I'm trying to figure out the angle the ray would be ...
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1answer
105 views

Path Difference Due to Angled Incident Light

If light incident on a diffraction grating makes an angle $\alpha$ with respect to the normal to the grating, show how $$m \lambda = d\sin\theta$$ becomes $$m\lambda = d[\sin(\theta - \alpha) + ...
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0answers
49 views

Spectroscopy from a classical light wave or photon only?

In chemistry we mostly regard light/electromagnetic radiation as a beam of particles or photons. This is a very useful model to explain molecular excitations and ionisations from quantum interactions. ...
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1answer
2k views

What is the meaning of this “let there be light” joke?

Someone across the restaurant is wearing this shirt, and I certainly don't get it. Update Related: What does this quote about the four dimensional divergence of an antisymmetric tensor mean?
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5answers
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Is it (theoretically) physically possible to project an image into thin air?

Is there some law of physics that strictly prohibits the projection of 2D or 3D images into thin air (such as holograms in movies) or is a solution to achieve this still up for grabs by an eventual ...
3
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3answers
136 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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1answer
119 views

Dispersion in a rectangular prism

Why are the colours visible only at the fringes of the light refracted through a rectangular prism?
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1answer
37 views

Can you use infra-red goggles (or similar principle) to see through mist and fog?

As per title really... fog is obviously quite opaque to visible light yet transparent to radio waves. What is the range of frequencies at which fog is opaque, and is either end of this range at a ...
3
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2answers
156 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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0answers
22 views

Does light follow magnetic flux lines? [duplicate]

Will light naturally tend to align itself to magnetic flux lines?
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2answers
81 views

Why do sea waves seem to be standing still when you look from the window of an airplane?

Looking from the window of a passenger plane even at moderate altitude such that one can still recognize individual waves and even something like white foam, and small boats close to the cost line, it ...
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3answers
6k views

Does a photon exert a gravitational pull?

I know a photon has zero rest mass, but it does have plenty of energy. Since energy and mass are equivalent does this mean that a photon (or more practically, a light beam) exerts a gravitational pull ...
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4answers
4k views

Do rainbows have ultraviolet bands and infrared bands?

We have seen that rainbows looks so colorful as we are only able to see only the visible light. But Do they also have ultraviolet bands and infra-red bands, that we are unable to see? I know someone ...
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1answer
67 views

Can electrons reflect light?

Lately, I have been watching sparks while connecting my electronic devices and I can notice that electricity is kind of blue, and theoretically it's blue because it reflects blue wavelengths?? And ...
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2answers
80 views

How can light enter a black hole if it cannot get out?

I have known for a very long time that light cannot exit a black hole. I can even understand some of the simpler reasonning about it, such as escape velocity, or space geometry inside the black hole. ...
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0answers
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Electrons in a gas discharge tube

I'm having some difficulty understanding regarding electrons in gas discharge tubes. My understanding is the following: In a gas discharge tube the gas must be at low pressure in order to be ...