Vision works when we receive the reflected wavelength of white light from a particular object. There is a single angle of reflection depends upon the light's incidence angle. If so, how can many people could possibly see the same object unless they stood in the path of reflected wavelength?


closed as off-topic by Carl Witthoft, user36790, John Rennie, Daniel Griscom, Gert Jan 5 '16 at 2:24

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  • $\begingroup$ A visible object has to have a contrast to its environment. While objects either emit light on their own or reflect light, that alone is not enough for proper visibility. If the emitted or reflected light is of the same color and pattern as the background, even a well lit object can very well be invisible. This is actually an ongoing physical research topic about optical cloaks which deflect light from the background around an object. While I know that this is not what you are asking, I wanted to point out that the visibility question is more complicated than surface reflections. $\endgroup$ – CuriousOne Jan 4 '16 at 12:11
  • $\begingroup$ Good place to start. $\endgroup$ – Mike Dunlavey Jan 4 '16 at 12:27
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    $\begingroup$ This is completely wrong. Read about, for one example, Bidirectional Reflectance Distribution Function. $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Jan 4 '16 at 12:46
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    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because its assumptions are completely wrong. $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Jan 4 '16 at 12:46
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    $\begingroup$ Because there are lots of photons? $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Jan 4 '16 at 18:15

There is generally not a single angle of reflection. You get a single angle only for perfectly smooth surfaces, and even that is an idealization. There are no perfectly smooth surfaces. This type of reflection is called specular.

Generally, when light hits an object it is reflected in all directions, due to the fact that no surface is perfect. The extreme case of this is called diffuse reflection.

Most cases are somewhere in between. A good example is a polished floor. Everyone can see the floor, but you can also see a faint reflection of the light fixtures in the ceiling. The reflection in that case is partly diffuse, partly specular. In the extreme (and idealized) case of perfectly diffuse reflection (also called Lambertian) from a floor, you would not be able to see an image of the ceiling light fixtures.


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