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Does light travel in a straight line trough air?

  1. Oct 14, 2011 #1
    When you shoot a single photon, wouldn't the oxygen, and other atoms in the air we breathe move the light off it's trajectory. Won't the light hit any atoms or bend away from the atoms. Does light bend in air? Does it bend to avoid striking the atoms?

    How do we see straight lines, how do we see the shapes, shouldn't the shapes we see with our eyes be disorted because our eyes recieve wrong imformation about where the photons came from, because the photons were bent/scattered of their course to our direction?

    I don't understand how light travels in air or how we see ''correctly''
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 14, 2011 #2

    olivermsun

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    Light doesn't travel through air in exactly straight lines. You can see the effect on images which "shimmer" when seen though rising hot air (as in a mirage). The twinkling of stars is also caused by distortions which change due to motion in the air.

    However, light does travel "pretty" straight through air, so that human vision still works, more or less.
     
  4. Oct 14, 2011 #3

    DrGreg

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    The fact that the sky is blue, not pitch black, shows that some of the light passing through the atmosphere does not follow a straight path.
     
  5. Oct 14, 2011 #4
    Yes but when we see light in the dark, for example a light pole or a star It seems like there are lines that form around the source of light, like a cross or you know a star? is that caused by air? does that not happen in space?
     
  6. Oct 15, 2011 #5

    DrGreg

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    That's most likely caused by a lens -- in a camera taking a photo, in spectacles (if you wear them) or even the lens of your eye.
     
  7. Oct 15, 2011 #6
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