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Steamy windows

  1. May 3, 2004 #1
    When I boil some water,and outside is cold,window-pans in my kitchen get steamy.Here comes my question.Shouldn't that thin film of water condensate be light transparent?I wonder why becouse it is nothing else but clear water.
    Does the film structure become corrugated somehow or other mechanism preventing transparency is involved?
    Experts please explain -Zhana.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 3, 2004 #2
    no physicist here, but distortion thru refraction seems to be culprit.
  4. May 3, 2004 #3


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    How clean are your windows? In any case, there are going to be air bubbles throughout the layer- that's what usually makes a film of water translucent.
  5. May 3, 2004 #4


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    Also, the water condenses in many droplets of differing thicknesses. Each droplet acts like a different microlens. The light that passes through each droplet gets refracted in a different direction, scattering the light.

  6. May 3, 2004 #5


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    Although the water is not visible, and the air is not visible, the border between the two is visible. A familiar example is sunlight reflecting off the surface of the water.

    The visibility of condensation, mist and clouds are all results of light scattering through or reflections on the surface of minature droplets of water.
  7. May 4, 2004 #6
    Thank You All for your replies,
    Njorl's explanation looks promising to me to describe the structure.The film isn't smooth but the window-pan is cowered by many of small water droplets of different sizes attached to the glass surface?
    If that is so ,what is the average size of such droplet and why they don't join together and form smooth water plane ?Potential energy?
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