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What determines transparentcy?

  1. Mar 18, 2005 #1
    What determines if something is transparent versus being reflected or refracted? It's said that photons are absorbed and reemitted, but what determines the angle of re-emission? How does the photon know when to pass through, reflect, or refract?

    The spherical nature of subatomic particles and atoms make it hard to imagine the mechanics that take place. Does a particle or atom know that it's part of something that's transparent, reflective, or refractive? And, if so, does it tell the photon what to do?

    The question of opacity, I assume, is the degree that a photon's wave is out of phase with the material it interacts with. The more a photon's wave is out of phase, the more its energy is absorbs by the material, and the less energy there is available to reemit.

    Anyway, it seems that some fairly complex interactions take place. I thought it would be an interesting thought experiment. Anyone want to take a whack at it? Please, no page referrals on angle formulas (macro effects). What are your thoughts about micro (maybe quantum) interactions? :uhh:
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 18, 2005 #2


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