On youtube, a bunch of Rayleigh scattering experiments (e.g this one are set up with some compound being added to water in order to invoke the effect.

Why is there no Rayleigh effect for "pure" water? In other words, why is there no visible scattering effect before the compound is added?

Is it because in its liquid state, there are no separate "particles" floating around? If so, why does this matter?

  • $\begingroup$ Water, in its purest form, has a scattering length of hundreds of meters, which makes it impractical to "see" it in a classroom experiment without impurities. It doesn't mean that there is no scattering, it's just to weak to be useful as a visual demonstration. $\endgroup$ – CuriousOne Jun 1 '16 at 19:28

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