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Scattering of Light

The scattering of light is an important observation in our daily life.
The way light scatters off molecules in the atmosphere explains why the sky is blue and why the sun looks red at sunrise and sunset. This is because of the scattering of light.


Tyndall Effect

A beam of light or laser, invisible in clear air or pure water, will trace a visible path through colloidal particles. This is known as the Tyndall effect after its discoverer, the 19th-century British physicist John Tyndall.

The colour of the scattered light depends on the size of the particles. The very fine particles scatter colours of all wavelengths .

The large particles in size scatter colours of longer wavelengths. The examples are

  • A headlight on a car shining through fog.

  • A fine beam of sunlight entering a smoke filled room through a small hole.

  • When sunlight passes through a canopy of a dense forest.

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