There's a clever little company here in the UK that will forever end your pub quiz worries. It's called AQA (Any Question Answered). AQA is a text message-based service that does exactly what it says on the tin. You send them a question from your mobile phone and they will text you the answer within a minute or two.
(A word of warning, though. AQA costs £1 a go. I was told it would cost little more than the standard cost of about 12p. More fool me.)
I've been wondering about a little science problem these past few days, and while in the pub on Friday I decided to test them out. The results were less than good, so I'm hoping someone can help me out without charging me an arm and a leg.
This is what I understand about vision. Light particles strike a solid object and bounce back off. The wavelength, and therefore colour, of the reflected light depends on the object in question. Some wavelengths are absorbed while some are reflected. The reflected light enters my eyes and gets interpreted by the brain into an image. My science education ended several years ago (unless you want to stretch the term 'science' to include geography), but I'm fairly sure my explanation is broadly accurate.
In the total absence of light an object will appear black. For instance, when you're inside a cupboard or at a Napalm Death concert. No light is available to be reflected into your eyes, so your brain can't form an image. This is where it gets a little tricky for me. I was wondering if it were possible that, in the total absence of light, could an object actually be theoretically transparent? After all, if we consider physical objects at the atomic level there is actually much more nothing than there is something. Without light reflecting off of what little matter there is in an atom, surely it should be possible to 'see' right through it.
I posed this to AQA, but they couldn't give me an answer beyond the obvious fact that without light we can't see anything anyway. The replies I got went like this:-
Me: We understand that light is required in order to view objects, but in the total absence of light are objects theoretically transparent?
AQA: In the absence of light nothing is transparent because you can't see anything, let alone through anything. There must be light to enable sight.
Me: We understand that the absence of light precludes vision but, purely theoretically, would physical objects be transparent in the total absence of light? We're talking about transparency on the atomic level, considering the vast spaces between the nucleus and electrons in atoms.
AQA: The absence of light, as you say, precludes vision. Thus, the object would not be transparent, as you cannot see through an object that cannot be seen. AQA thinks the level of light does not affect whether an object is transparent, as transparency is simply the property of allowing light to pass through.
I'm fairly certain I'm missing the point, but it doesn't seem entirely satisfying to say that everything in the universe is automatically black until you shine a light on it. Hopefully one of my readers was paying attention in class and can shed some light (bad pun intended) on the matter. Save me from my ignorance before I vanish into a black hole of stupid.