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Name: Bill
Status: educator
Age: N/A
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: Around 1999


Question:
Why are some things like glass clear, in that we can see through them, while other obects like wood and not clear.


Replies:
There are at least three effects to consider:

Absorption:
When light enters an object it can be absorbed so no light makes it through the object.

Reflection:
Light reflects off the surface. This can be wavelength dependent like on soap or oil films. Some colors are transmitted while others are reflected from the surface.

Scattering of light:
When a substance is made of particles whose size is on the order of the size of light wavelengths that substance will cause the light to scatter, resulting in distortion of light that penetrates it. Thus light is transmitted but the material is not transparent. For example, add a few drops of milk to water or compare old, crazed, glass with new glass.

Greg Bradburn



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