The nature of light from colored(visual) materials

  1. My question stems from the visual perception of color. First I'd like to clarify what we're seeing. When we see that a material is a certain color does this mean that it's constitute atoms are continuously absorbing certain wave lengths/energy levels of light and blocking out/bouncing the left over wave lengths to our eyes? or does the light that the atoms emit after absorption have more to do with it? My question was really sparked by wondering why colors are continuous. Are materials constantly absorbing/bouncing off certain wavelengths? or is there a continuous exchange of absorb/emit? or both? or neither? or somewhere in between? lol just curious. I couldn't exactly find the answer of what wavelengths we actually see and why...
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Vanadium 50

    Vanadium 50 18,056
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
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    This is a very complex question, and it's been studied by many famous people, like Edwin Land and Thomas Young. antistrophy's web site is quite good.

    The key concept is to understand color is a perception, not a physical property. Different physical properties of light contribute differently to this perception.
     
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