. asked in Science & MathematicsPhysics · 8 years ago

Why does light pass through transparent mediums?

What's special about air, water, glass, diamond, etc that allows this?

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  • 8 years ago
    Favourite answer

    For the transparent solids, like glass and diamonds, their atoms are arranged in orderly lattices, which is like a three dimensional matrix. So the photons can slide right through the material in between the rows, tiers, and columns of atoms without bumping into them and being absorbed. With gases, even though the molecules are randomly distributed through so-called Brownian Movement, they are so far apart that the photons pass on through without bumping into most of them.

    Opaque material, by contrast, has its atoms and molecules distributed in a hodge podge, random way where there are no clear paths through the particles that make the material up. So the photons are interceded and, for opaque, absorbed where they increase the kinetic energy of the particles and cause a rise in temperature. Which is why the hood on your car gets hot in the sunlight. But the glass on the windshield stays relatively cool.

    Translucent material, as you might guess, is somewhere in between the transparent and the opaque materials. That is, some of the photons get absorbed, some do not.

    Lest you misunderstand...not all photons that are absorbed stay absorbed. Many are re-emitted and travel eventually through the material that way. And many near the surface are re-emitted at different frequencies, which is where color is defined by the "reflected" light.

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    CogitoErgoCogitoSum is wrong (although there are some correct thoughts in her/his answer). Against our every-day intuition, the light does interact with ideally transparent media. As a result of this interaction, the speed of light gets smaller - this is described by refraction index, n. If a beam of light hits the surface of the transparent body, a part of it is reflected back. This is the result of the same interaction, the degree of reflection is also defined by n. Refraction is also the result of the same interaction, and its degree is also defined by n.

  • Anonymous
    8 years ago

    If light is more denser than the medium it is trying to travel through it will travel through. However if the object it is trying to pass through is more denser than the light the light will not travel through and it will reflect off the object according to the rule; angle of incidience=angle of refraction.

    Source(s): Year 12 Physics Course
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