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Optical phenomena with colliding river rocks

  1. Jul 16, 2009 #1
    Today, I was red-necking it up with some friends in Auburn at the nearby forest. We found an open area on a decent sized creek that was filled with mostly less-than-fist-sized river rock.

    After dark, we noticed that when a rock was thrown to the ground (on the other rocks), a small spirt of light would appear. It appeared mostly white, but was perhaps slightly bluish.

    I know little about geology, but the rocks were of both light color, and consistent in color.

    What's going on here?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 16, 2009 #2

    Andy Resnick

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  4. Jul 16, 2009 #3
    That's what I figured. Somehow, an electron gets excited. As the electron returns to a lower state, It ionizes the surrounding air. This ionized air then emits the light.

    So there's not much better than that? Sounds like a lot of hand-waving.
  5. Jul 18, 2009 #4
    I could be wrong, but I think that an electron returning to a lower state does not ionize anything. Rather, the electron emits a photon while returning to a "lower state"
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