Physical processes involved when seeing, and comparisons between with other light detection systems. Includes questions about the eye, optical nerve, brain, corrective lenses, etc.

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125
votes
8answers
14k views

Could Legolas actually see that far?

The video “How Far Can Legolas See?” by MinutePhysics recently went viral. The video states that although Legolas would in principle be able to count $105$ horsemen $24\text{ km}$ away, he shouldn't ...
61
votes
11answers
23k views

Is it possible that there is a color our human eye can't see?

Is it possible that there's a color that our eye couldn't see? Like all of us are color blind to it. If there is, is it possible to detect/identify it?
47
votes
2answers
8k views

Why do I see better under water using swimming goggles? [duplicate]

I am myopic (I don't really know if this is relevant or not) and I usually swim without contact lenses. My vision is clearly better underwater when I am using swimming goggles. I have tried to ...
46
votes
3answers
20k views

Why is the sky not purple?

I realise the question of why this sky is blue is considered reasonably often here, one way or another. You can take that knowledge as given. What I'm wondering is, given that the spectrum of ...
36
votes
4answers
5k views

Why does a moving fan seem transparent?

We all know when fan starts moving faster, we cannot see its blades. Why is this? First I assumed persistence of vision may be the reason. But that can happen with blade also right? Image of blade ...
30
votes
9answers
3k views

Is it possible to blur an image in such way that a person with sight problems could see it sharp?

If someone has short or long sight, is it possible to tune image on a computer monitor in such way, that a person could see it sharp as if they were wearing glasses? If not, will 3d monitor make it ...
28
votes
5answers
2k views

Is a proton collision (collisions like in the LHC) visible to the human eye?

I was curious if a proton collision is visible to the human eye. (This might sound like a really basic question and forgive me if it is. I am very inexperienced in Physics and just wanted an answer ...
24
votes
3answers
111k views

Why does the moon sometimes appear giant and a orange red color near the horizon?

I've read various ideas about why the moon looks larger on the horizon. The most reasonable one in my opinion is that it is due to how our brain calculates (perceives) distance, with objects high ...
23
votes
9answers
19k views

Can a human size object move so fast that it ceases to be observable?

In many anime, comics, movies, etc, we see a lot of super human beings moving and fighting at such high speeds that a regular human being cannot see that they are fighting or moving pass by. In ...
23
votes
1answer
9k views

Why can you see virtual images?

In optics it is widely mentioned real images are projectable onto screens whereas virtual ones can only be seen by a person. Isn't that contradictory? I mean in order to see the virtual image it has ...
21
votes
5answers
8k views

Eyes open under water

Yesterday I looked underwater with my eyes open (and no goggles) and I realized I can't see anything clearly. Everything looks very, very blurry. My guess is that the eye needs direct contact with air ...
21
votes
3answers
2k views

Why does light of high frequency appear violet?

When people are asked to match monchromatic violet light with an additive mix of basic colours, they (paradoxically) mix in red. In fact, the CIE 1931 color space chromaticity diagram shows this ...
21
votes
5answers
8k views

Why do nearsighted people see better with their glasses *rotated*?

If you are nearsighted (like me), you may have noticed that if you tilt your glasses, you can see distant objects more clear than with normally-positioned glasses. If you already see completely clear, ...
20
votes
4answers
798 views

How to optically rotate images in small increments (for eyeglasses)?

As the result of an accident, one or more nerves that control the rotation of my left eye were damaged. The result is that my left eye views the world rotated clockwise several degrees, compared to my ...
19
votes
2answers
3k views

Why myopic people see this picture differently?

I found the following picture in the Internet and I am curious how from a physicist point of view to explain it. Basically the idea is the following. If you are a normal person - you suppose to see ...
14
votes
9answers
645 views

How to explain (pedagogically) why there is 4 spacetime dimensions while we see only the 3 spatial dimesions?

I have been asked this question by a student, but I was able and in the same time incapable to give a good answer for this without equations, so do you have ideas how one can explain this in a simple ...
13
votes
3answers
2k views

Is it possible that a person with myopia will see a blurry picture as normal? [duplicate]

I am trying to process an image in good quality to appear blurred to a normal person and good to a person suffering from myopia as seen in this source. Is it possible that a picture that is blurry ...
13
votes
4answers
6k views

Why does adding red light with blue light give purple light?

Our eyes contain 3 photoreceptor cells (cones) to perceive three wavelength ranges of light. Here is a visual representation of the wavelengths by these receptors (S, M and L). So if we have light ...
12
votes
4answers
2k views

3D glasses giving the opposite effect to that expected

I have just finished watching the new Star Wars movie (The Force Awakens), and during the end credits, text is shown upon a background of stars. Wearing the 3D glasses, I noticed that the text appears ...
12
votes
3answers
7k views

Why do green lasers appear brighter and stronger than red and blue lasers?

This is mostly for my own personal illumination, and isn't directly related to any school or work projects. I just picked up a trio of laser pointers (red, green, and blue), and I notice that when I ...
12
votes
1answer
483 views

Why can I turn light red or blue by holding my finger up to it?

This is a difficult phenomenon to explain. Imagine you have an opaque object partially covering a very bright light source, for example, an object held up against the sky. The left hand diagram is ...
11
votes
4answers
5k views

Do eyeballs exhibit chromatic aberration?

Fairly straightforward question. If not, why not? I suspect that if they do, it is not perceived due to the regions of highest dispersion being in one's region of lowest visual acuity.
11
votes
1answer
255 views

Why can movies get away with 24 frames per second, but games can't? [closed]

Movies look reasonably smooth at 24 frames per second; unless the screen is huge and you use your peripheral vision, you usually can't see each frame individually. This has lead to a large amount of ...
10
votes
4answers
9k views

Can someone explain the color Pink to me?

I just finished watching this interesting video: http://youtu.be/S9dqJRyk0YM It does a very quick explanation of how pink light doesn't exist, and that the concept of pink is our brain's attempt at ...
10
votes
3answers
15k views

What is the color of a mirror?

A mirror couldn't be white, as then you wouldn't be able to see your reflection so clearly. It wouldn't be transparent, as that then won't reflect. So what color is it?
10
votes
2answers
1k views

Why does the sky suddenly look gray through this window?

I am looking to the windowed roof of my building, and I notice that the sky, which has few white clouds, sometimes looks completely gray, as if there was a huge cover of gray clouds, but there are not....
10
votes
2answers
286 views

How do a microscope's optics expose defects in the user's vision?

I've got cataracts in both eyes. My vision is correctable to 20/30, so the cataracts are essentially a non-issue in daily living. But when I use a microscope, which I do daily, (binocular, zoom 7x-30x)...
10
votes
0answers
490 views

Why does the moon look bigger at the horizon? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why does the moon sometimes appear giant and a orange red color near the horizon? Why does the moon look bigger at horizon or skyline than at other times e.g. at moonrise ...
9
votes
6answers
4k views

Why is Light invisible?

Why can't we see light? The thing which makes everything visible is itself invisible. Why is it so?
9
votes
2answers
4k views

Infrared remote flashes blue light in camera

I know that if you held an infrared remote in front of a digital camera, it'll flash a blue/purplish light when you press the buttons. Why? (Image by Zombie Rider.)
8
votes
4answers
43k views

What makes some laser beams visible and other laser beams invisible?

What makes the beam of some lasers: visible? such as the ones used in clubs or such as the laser pointers sold at amazon which if pointed to the sky look like a solid visible beam of light ...
8
votes
5answers
4k views

Why can't we see infrared light?

While explaining to my nephew about the physics of light, I told him we cannot see infrared color, and he kicked back with a very simple question: why can't we see it? I could not tell him. Is the ...
8
votes
3answers
11k views

Is wearing 3D glasses from the cinema as sunglasses hurtful to the eyes?

I heard a few times that using them as sunglasses is hurting the eye since UV light is not filtered, but the pupil is wider than it would be w/o wearing them because the visible light is dimmed. I ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

Can someone explain how water from a garden hose can propagate in a sine/cosine wave?

A video posted on Youtube. How does this phenomenon work? I know he is using frequency to propagate water in a sine/cosine wave, but how does it exactly work this way? Why do we see it as if its ...
7
votes
5answers
628 views

Perception of Depths and Stereovision [closed]

I watched a video on Youtube and read a few articles which say that human beings see 3D because we have two eyes. But does that mean when I close one of my eyes, I should see 2D? It doesn't happen so. ...
7
votes
1answer
5k views

How much sky do we see at any one moment?

When we look at any particular point the sky, what percentage of the celestial sphere do we see? This question arises from the notion that on average there passes one meteor per hour overhead. So ...
7
votes
1answer
590 views

Why are black mosquito nets so much less visible than white ones?

I have just been installing a couple of mosquito nets for windows in our apartment. The material is polyester, fibers are approximately 0.2mm thick, and the hexagonal "holes" apprixmately 1.5mm in ...
6
votes
2answers
964 views

How many frames can human eye see? [closed]

What's the limitation of our eyes? Can we differentiate 60fps from 120fps? Are new 144hz monitors just a marketing trick? Couldn't find any proper journals or studies about the matter.
6
votes
5answers
675 views

What are colors?

If you go to any course about photography, you learn that all colors are made up of the colors red, green and blue (RGB). (If you mix red, green and blue light, you will get white light, or any other ...
6
votes
2answers
5k views

Why would an object appear a different size when in water?

A friend of mine has a homework question and we're having some trouble figuring out what physical mechanisms come into play for this. An underwater swimmer sees a spherical air bubble that appears ...
6
votes
2answers
609 views

Blue-shifting as opposed to violet-shifting

A recent XKCD comic implies that the sky is blue as opposed to violet due to human physiology, and that animals more sensitive to shorter wavelengths will perceive the Earth's sky as the shortest ...
6
votes
1answer
3k views

Why both yellow and purple light could be made by a mix of red, green and blue?

We see the mix of red light and green light as yellow light (#FFFF00). The wavelength of yellow light lies between red and green. But the wavelength of purple light lies outside of red and blue. ...
6
votes
2answers
6k views

How photons represent colors that you see?

Right now, my understanding is that, a mixture of photons of many different frequencies is perceived as white by your eye. While no photons at all, is perceived as black. And photons with the blue ...
6
votes
1answer
60 views

What happens at the point of welding iron?

What is the physics behind welding iron? It is obviously the electricity that causes the two metal parts to fuse but what is the role of the welding rod and why is it said to damage your eyes when you ...
6
votes
2answers
3k views

Are regular light bulbs better for the eyes than CFLs or “tube lights”?

I've heard that regular light bulbs with a filament are better for the eyes. Is the spectrum of one worse than the other? If so, are there any regulations for their use in industrial settings for ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

Can spectacles converge sunlight to an extent that it burns the eyeball?

I need to know whether wearing spectacles can cause optical harm. I saw a movie where one pair of glasses was placed on table exposed to sunlight, then the sunlight converged and focused to a point ...
5
votes
4answers
2k views

Why are color values stored as Red, Green, Blue?

I learned in elementary school that you could get green by mixing blue with yellow. ...
5
votes
2answers
846 views

Are there any astronomical objects at night that are dangerous to look at (through a telescope)?

Are there any astronomical bodies that would be dangerous to my vision to view through a telescope? Obviously the sun is dangerous, but are there other bodies at night I should avoid?
5
votes
2answers
7k views

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-...
5
votes
6answers
12k views

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 ...