Why does this happen?

image of glass panel

From the 'front' of the panel, the glass appears transparent. But viewed from the 'edges', it appears translucent...

  • 1
    Well, actually, it's not translucent, just refracted and reflected so that you are looking through a lot more glass, pretty much from edge-to-edge. Since most glass is greenish in color, that gives you the greenish color you see in this case. Notice that even in this picture you can see some specific details, just refracted and reflected at odd angles. – Terry Bollinger May 30 '15 at 2:16
  • Hi, thanks for the comment! So, does that mean if the glass pane was the same height as it is width such that it's a cube, that the glass would look greenish from all angles?? – Jet Blue May 30 '15 at 5:21
  • Also why does reflection come into play? – Jet Blue May 30 '15 at 5:25
  • 1
    Yes, that is exactly right, and you can even try it if you can find a piece of glass with a square cross section. Reflection comes into play through what is called internal reflection, when something with a high index of refraction (glass) touches something with a low index of refraction (air). You can see the same effect by looking at the water surface through the end of an aquarium. – Terry Bollinger May 30 '15 at 19:38
up vote 0 down vote accepted

Many of the comments have touched up on this, the light reaching the glass is experiencing internal refraction. The same reason that when fabric gets wet it seems to get darker. The same thing is happening inside the glass before reaching your eye.

What total internal reflection looks like.

This is what you are seeing in the glass but it would look someone more like this picture: enter image description here

When the light hits the glass more of it is adsorbed into the impurities in the glass making it seem darker and greener. The glass (which has essentially been turned into a mirror now) is not as good at reflecting the other colors as green which is why putting a mirror next to another mirror makes that greenish hue that you see in the following picture: enter image description here

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.