Visible Light Waves By alex daggett

We can see colors for a reason!
What is Visible Light?

Visible light is a very narrow range of wavelengths and frequencies in the electromagnetic spectrum that humans can see. It is the small portion of electromagnetic radiation that is visible to the human eye.

Visible light is the only type of radiation that we can perceive. When light reflects off objects and into our eyes, we see an image.

This is an image of white light being transmitted through a prism, creating the color spectrum.

Wavelengths consisted in the color spectrum vary in size. Different wavelengths of visible light appear as separate colors, which is why you see a rainbow.

The wavelengths are mainly between 400 nano meters (nm) and 700 nm. Violet has the shortest wavelength, at around 380 nm. Red has the longest wavelength, reaching 700 nm.

These are the different wavelengths of certain colors from the electromagnetic color spectrum.
What are mediums?

A medium is the matter that a wave travels through.

The three different mediums are transparent, translucent, and opaque.


Materials that are capable of allowing light to travel through them without any disturbance are known as transparent mediums. When air strikes a transparent surface, it is being transmitted. This means that you can see the light very clearly. A glass door is a good example of an object capable of transmitting light, because it is transparent.

You can see out of a window because it is transparent.


When you pick up a plastic container, it appears to be fogged up, and frosty. Materials that can only transmit some light are called translucent. Translucent mediums absorb some of the light that strikes them, but not enough to enable you see the image on the other side. A frosty window is translucent, as well as a plastic milk container.

Crystals are only capable of transmitting some light that comes into contact.


When light is completely absorbed by an object, that means that the surface it has come in contact with is opaque. Opaque materials block all light from transmitting, making it impossible for light to pass through. A wooden door is opaque.

Wood completely absorbs light the moment it comes into contact.
How does visible light behave towards different mediums?

Light behaves differently towards different mediums. Visible light waves can either be transmitted, reflected, absorbed, diffracted, or scattered, depending on the composition of the object.


When visible light waves come into contact with water, they are diffracted, or bent, in a separate direction. This explains why the sun's reflection appears to scatter across the surface of water. When you look into a glass of water, you are most likely to see your own eyes staring back at you. This is caused by the visible light waves reflecting off of the water and back into your eyes, creating an image. So, water is capable of diffracting and reflecting!


The moment light comes into contact with wood, it is completely absorbed and blocked from going through the other side. This occurs because wood has an opaque medium, and the matter is to dense to transmit any light.


When light strikes a mirror, it immediately bounces off the surface, reflecting back into our eyes. This is how we see ourselves when we look into a mirror. While water is capable of reflecting and diffracting, a mirror isn't capable of bending the rays of light that come into contact with it's surface.

How do colorblind people perceive visible light?

People with color deficiency, or color blindness, perceive the world much differently than people with normal vision. This is caused by the lack of variations in wavelengths consisted in the electromagnetic spectrum.

These are the colors that are perceived by people with color deficiency.

The most common type of color blindness is duteranopia, or red-green color blindness. People with duteranoipa are incapable of telling the difference between red and green. While people with normal color vision can differentiate between red and green, people with duteranopia would be unable to spot a red apple in their lawn.

Imagine not being able to tell the difference between red and green apples, or being unable to spot Christmas colors around your neighborhood during December.
Thanks for reading my presentation on Visible Light Waves!


Bramer, Daniel, and David Wojtowicz, editors. “Refraction of Light.”

Charff, Lauren S. “ColorBlindness.” ColorBlindness,

“Light Behaves In Different Ways Towards Different Materials.”

Lucas, Jim. “Mirror Image: The Reflection and Refraction of Light.”

Netting, Ruth . “Wave Behaviors.”


Created with images by quangle - "sunrise phu quoc island" • Wokandapix - "leaves fall colors" • papaya45 - "sun hand finger" • Snufkin - "lake mountains switzerland" • Ross Griff - "window" • alusruvi - "rock crystal clear to white gem top" • oliver.dodd - "warm dead wood" • gewa - "forest light autumn" • blizniak - "evening reflection sunset" • spDuchamp - "wood" • stux - "watercolour fund background" • pedrik - "Red and Green Apples" • Unsplash - "stars starry sky galaxy"

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