Questions tagged [visible-light]

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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57
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4answers
23k views

What is the mechanism behind the slowdown of light/photons in a transparent medium?

So light travels slower in glass (for example) than in a vacuum. What causes light to slow down? Or: How does it slow down? If light passes through the medium, is it not essentially traveling in the "...
46
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4answers
20k 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 ...
45
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3answers
15k views

How does light speed up after coming out of a glass slab?

As I learned today in school, my teacher told me that when light enters a glass slab it slows down due to the change in density and it speeds up as it goes out of the glass slab. This causes a lateral ...
22
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4answers
6k views

Speed of light in a gravitational field?

How do I solve the speed of light in gravitational field? Should I just add gravitational acceleration in speed of light? $$c'=c_0+g(r)t~?$$
8
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6answers
11k views

Do photons have acceleration?

Photons travel at the fastest speed in our universe, the speed of light. Do photons have acceleration?
89
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6answers
79k views

Why is glass transparent?

Once I asked this question from my teacher and he replied "Because it passes light.". "And why does it pass light?" I asked and he said, "Because it is transparent.". The same question again, Why ...
47
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6answers
9k views

If I am travelling on a car at around 60 km/h, and I shine a light, does that mean that the light is travelling faster than the speed of light?

The title says it all. If I was on a bus at 60 km/h, and I started walking on the bus at a steady pace of 5 km/h, then I'd technically be moving at 65 km/h, right? So my son posed me an interesting ...
52
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11answers
78k views

What determines color — wavelength or frequency?

What determines the color of light -- is it the wavelength of the light or the frequency? (i.e. If you put light through a medium other than air, in order to keep its color the same, which one would ...
100
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6answers
43k views

Why are most metals gray/silver?

Why do most metals (iron, tin, aluminum, lead, zinc, tungsten, nickel, etc.) appear silver or gray in color? (What atomic characteristics determine the color?) What makes copper and gold have ...
29
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3answers
4k 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 ...
20
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8answers
13k views

What happens when a photon hits a mirror?

When a photon of light hits a mirror does the exact same photon of light bounce back or is it absorbed then one with the same properties emitted? If the same one is bounced back does it's velocity ...
18
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4answers
3k views

Looking for the actual reason of refraction explained precisely without analogies

I'm a high school teacher trying to teach my students (15year olds) about refraction. I've seen a lot of good analogies to explain why the light changes direction, like the marching band analogy, that ...
3
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4answers
5k views

What's so special about the speed of light? [duplicate]

What's so special about the speed of light? Why do many equations in physics include the speed of light in vacuum $c$? Why do so many thing depend upon it? Why can't it be the speed of sound? ...
48
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6answers
106k views

Why doesn't the frequency of light change during refraction?

When light passes from one medium to another its velocity and wavelength change. Why doesn't frequency change in this phenomenon?
42
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5answers
10k views

Why does the sky change color? Why is the sky blue during the day, red during sunrise/set and black during the night?

Why does the sky change color? Why is the sky blue during the day, red during sunrise/set and black during the night?
27
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1answer
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How are photons “consumed”?

I have very little background in physics, so I apologize if this question is painfully naive. Consider the following thought experiment: an observer is in a closed room whose walls, floor, and ...
50
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7answers
6k views

Photons from stars--how do they fill in such large angular distances?

It would seem that far-away stars are at such a distance that I should be able to take a step to the side and not have the star's photons hit my eye. How do stars release so many photons to fill in ...
14
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3answers
3k views

Why doesn't gravity speed up light?

We know that gravity speeds up a body; for instance, a meteor which enters the earth gets constantly accelerated up by earth's gravity. And from relativity we know that light bends near a massive body,...
42
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7answers
34k views

What is the difference between a white object and a mirror?

I was taught that something which reflects all the colors of light is white. The function of a mirror is the same, it also reflects all light. What's the difference? Update: But what if the white ...
4
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5answers
2k views

If you shoot a light beam behind the event horizon of a black hole, what happens to the light?

I have a couple of questions about light here, and sorry of they are silly.. So since anything that goes beyond the event horizon can't go out, so what if a light beam was pointed somewhere behind ...
64
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3answers
46k 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 ...
21
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7answers
25k views

Is coherent light required for interference in Young's double slit experiment?

In this Veritasium video, a home experiment is presented which appears to produce a very good double-slit interference pattern with normal sunlight. The experiment is an empty cardboard box with a ...
41
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2answers
14k views

Why is the sun brighter in Australia compared to parts of Asia?

Background: I've lived in Philippines for several years, and visited other parts of Asia occasionally (Singapore, Indonesia, Hongkong). I just moved to Western Australia a few months ago and I ...
8
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5answers
1k 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 ...
53
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5answers
31k 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. These ...
25
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4answers
30k views

What exactly is a quantum of light?

I am currently trying to learn some basic quantum mechanics and I am a bit confused. Wikipedia defines a photon as a quantum of light, which it further explains as some kind of a wave-packet. What ...
19
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2answers
2k views

EM wave function & photon wavefunction

According to this review Photon wave function. Iwo Bialynicki-Birula. Progress in Optics 36 V (1996), pp. 245-294. arXiv:quant-ph/0508202, a classical EM plane wavefunction is a wavefunction (in ...
22
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7answers
21k views

Why does adding red light with blue light give purple light? [duplicate]

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 of ...
22
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5answers
1k views

What longest time ever was achieved at holding light in a closed volume?

For what longest possible time it was possible to hold light in a closed volume with mirrored walls? I would be most interested for results with empty volume but results with solid-state volume may ...
14
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2answers
2k views

If light rays obey to the wave equation, why can they be thought as straight lines?

I'm a newbie with physics but I'm wondering how a ray of light can essentially be represented. I have always known that a ray of light proceeds in a straight line until it encounters another object (...
16
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5answers
37k views

How do electromagnetic waves travel in a vacuum?

This is perhaps a total newbie question, and I will try to formulate it the best I can, so here it goes. How does an electromagnetic wave travel through for example, the vacuum of space? I usually ...
21
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5answers
38k views

Why can't light escape from a classical black hole?

Photons do not have (rest) mass (that's why they can move at speed of "light"). So, my question is how the gravity of classical$^1$ black hole can stop light from escaping? -- $^1$ We ignore ...
48
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6answers
22k views

Where do photons go when they are absorbed?

The answer I usually get (and I'm paraphrasing here) is that they disappear and are instead absorbed as heat energy. But I find it hard to believe that the photon simply "disappears." Common sense ...
8
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1answer
4k views

Does light induce an electric current in a conductor?

I know that electromagnetic waves induce electric currents in conductors and that's the basis for radio, wi-fi etc. I also know that light is also an electromagnetic wave. So, can light induce a ...
9
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1answer
641 views

If refraction slows down light, isn't it possible to hold light still?

I have a quick question about the refraction of light, and I'm sorry if it seems a bit simplistic or even stupid, but I'm still learning. We know that when light passes through a denser medium, it ...
4
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5answers
832 views

Existence of monochromatic pulses?

Why there can not be a monochromatic pulse? My physics professor told us that we can't generate a monochromatic light pulse and I was wondering what are the physical limitations causing this.
5
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5answers
737 views

What exactly does the *frequency* of a photon mean?

If you emit a single photon, wait an interval, emit a second photon, wait the same interval, and keep repeating, is the resultant stream of photons describable by the frequency at which you emitted ...
9
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3answers
680 views

Bending of light - photon's inertia instead of mass

Using classical mechanics, the formula for gravitational attraction is $$F = G\frac{m_1m_2}{r^2}.$$ This formula does not work for photons, and we need to use Einstein's theory of gravity to ...
314
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25answers
110k views

Why are mirror images flipped horizontally but not vertically?

Why is it that when you look in the mirror left and right directions appear flipped, but not the up and down?
60
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6answers
9k views

How does light combine to make new colours?

In computer science, we reference colours using the RGB system and TVs have pixels which consist of groups of red, green and blue lines which turn on and off to create colours. But how does this work?...
63
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10answers
141k views

Why is light called an 'electromagnetic wave' if it's neither electric nor magnetic?

How can light be called electromagnetic if it doesn't appear to be electric nor magnetic? If I go out to the sunlight, magnets aren't affected (or don't seem to be). And there is no transfer of ...
68
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1answer
39k views

Why does a window become a mirror at night?

In day, when you look in the room through the window out, you can clearly see what happens outside. At night when it's dark outside but there's light inside you can look in the window but it becomes a ...
18
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5answers
7k views

Conservation of energy and Doppler effect?

From what I understand, the frequency of light coming from the source moving towards an observer increases. From $ E=hv $ , this implies increase in energy of photon. What really is confusing, is ...
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6answers
6k views

Is it possible to witness a circular rainbow?

What conditions would make it possible to see a naturally occurring fully 360° circular rainbow? Would it even be possible?
4
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5answers
3k views

Radio antenna producing waves in the visible spectrum [closed]

If a radio could produce waves in the visible light spectrum, what would the result be? This is a thought experiment that I've pondered for a few years now. I realize there are a few/many real-world ...
15
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4answers
6k views

What causes atoms to have their specific colors?

I understand that light (color) is part of the electromagnetic spectrum, and that it depends on what wavelengths are reflected/absorbed. Though what property of an individual atom gives it its color? ...
1
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3answers
836 views

Photons are faster than the speed of light because they travel in transversal waves?

This is my first time posting here, I am a school student who is just curious. So today I was wondering about how light works and how it travels, and this thought came to my mind: Light is made of ...
3
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3answers
615 views

Why can colors be mixed? [duplicate]

We can combine colored light, creating other colors, at least in terms of visual perception. But how it the result physically "a different color" - if it is at all? Or is all this not a physical ...
152
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6answers
22k views

Why do shadows from the sun join each other when near enough?

I was laying on my bed, reading a book when the sun shone through the windows on my left. I happened to look at the wall on my right and noticed this very strange effect. The shadow of my elbow, when ...
32
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4answers
11k views

How can a black hole reduce the speed of light?

If the speed of light is always constant then light should escape from a black hole because if directed radially outwards it only needs to travel a finite distance to escape, and at a speed of $c$ it ...