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There are various factors to consider when looking at the relation between light and surfaces since there are several properties, which are substantial, exhibited by light. These properties aid in understanding its behavior in diverse situations. Equivalently, different properties in optics help in defining how distinct entities are perceived. These are the key factors that are put into consideration in order to understand, analyze, and design the required interactions between planes and light (Bohren & Huffman, 2008).
For the purpose of this essay, a bathroom will be used to study this interaction. It will critically analyze how selected surfaces of the bathroom relate to light from an electric source. The behavior of light that includes how it transmits disperses, reflects, refracts, and absorbs into the surfaces will be taken into account.
The area of the bathroom is 1.5 meters wide and 2.5 meters long. Apart from the shower area, white tiles that are glossy cover the rest of the walls. A grey textured surface coats the floor. The ceiling is made of white gypsum and has two spotlight fixtures.
The furnishings are tastefully done with the door opening to a white wall-mounted, double door vanity unit. It has a mirror that extends all the way to the ceiling. The vanity unit’s counter is made of marble that is dark brown in color. There is a small glass statue that is bear-shaped placed on top of the counter. On the right side of the vanity unit, there is a toilet seat that is made of white porcelain. A shower cubicle is located on the far corner and has two sides made of black tiles while the other two are glass screens.
Light usually appears to travel in a straight line. When it comes in contact with the surface of an object, it can do either of the following things:
- it can be reflected
- it can be soaked up or absorbed by the surface
- it can be dispersed
- it can be scattered by the object
- it can be refracted (Bohren & Huffman, 2008).
The reflection and absorption of light by the object is what creates images in the eye of a human being. As was inferred by Maxwell, visible light is a portion of the greater electromagnetic spectrum (Rein, 2001). Thus, an object appears to be a particular texture or color depending on the wavelength of light it reflects. The rest is usually absorbed (Bohren & Huffman, 2008). This absorption is what enables one to see the different colors of the bathroom ranging from the white vanity unit to the grey floor.
Several elements in the bathroom also enable one to see the reflection of light. The mirror has a very smooth surface and reflects light at the same angle of incidence, making it possible for objects that are adjacent to be viewed as they are. This occurrence is known as specular reflection.
The tiles on the floor have a rougher surface in comparison to the mirror. This surface causes light to bounce off (scatter) in all directions and hence no image can be formed on the surface. This type of reflection is called diffused reflection (Young & Freedman, 2008).
The white tiles, dark marble counter, and black tiles experience both specular and diffuse reflection which causes objects to be seen, albeit in a distorted manner. It also allows one to observe the color and texture of these surfaces.
The shower screen and the mirror glass are transparent surfaces in the bathroom. These surfaces usually allow the majority of the light to pass through with barely any reflection. In as much as the light’s direction may change inside a material that is transparent, one can see through, and the images tend to be very clear.
When a ray of light is passing through materials with different densities, it tends to bend when entering the surface of the second material, and when leaving it. This phenomenon is known as the refraction of light (Rein, 2001). This fact is observed in the two transparent surfaces. Light slows down and changes direction as it enters the shower screen and mirror glass then bends back as it exits the surfaces.
Isaac Newton observed the dispersion of light in one of his many experiments. He found out that if light passes through a transparent object whose sides are non-parallel, the light splits into different colors since it consists of various light rays, each having a different color (Rein, 2001). This fact is observed in the small figurine placed on the counter. When light enters this object at different angles, it is dispersed revealing the color spectrum which is visible on the surrounding surfaces.
In conclusion, different entities absorb different frequencies of light allowing one to make out their diverse colors. In addition, surfaces of objects vary in how they reflect light depending on their texture, color, and type. Moreover, light decelerates as it enters a transparent material if it is dense, resulting in the refraction of light or dispersion of the white ray if the object’s sides are non-parallel.
Bohren, F. & Huffman, R. (2008). Absorption and scattering of light by small particles. Weinheim, Germany, Wiley. Web.
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Rein, C. (2001). Colour chemistry. Cambridge, Royal Society of Chemistry.
Young, H. & Freedman,R. (2008). University Physics. San Francisco, Calif, Pearson/Addison Wesley.