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Why can light go through some matter but not other matter?

  1. Oct 24, 2014 #1
    If possible, I would like an explanation that uses light as an electromagnetic wave, rather than a massless particle, because I don't understand photons. Thank you.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 24, 2014 #2


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  4. Oct 24, 2014 #3
    Thanks, so an object is transparent if light causes electrons in the object to oscillate, all the way through, until the same frequency light is emitted out the other side?

    If this is the case, consider the electrons right on the surface of the object on the side of the incoming light. The light is causing them to oscillate; why is light not also reflected back to my eyes, enabling me to see air or other transparent materials?
  5. Oct 25, 2014 #4

    Still don't understand
  6. Oct 26, 2014 #5


    Staff: Mentor

    It is. That, and refraction, are how you can see glass or water or diamonds or other transparent materials.
  7. Oct 26, 2014 #6
    But I can't see air. I understand how I can see diamonds and glass, but I don't understand how I can see air?
  8. Oct 26, 2014 #7


    Staff: Mentor

    Sure you can. Go underwater and blow bubbles. You will definitely be able to see air in the same way that you can see other transparent materials.
  9. Oct 26, 2014 #8
    Good point. Thanks.
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