why doesn't mirror appear to be white,when it can reflect every part of light that falls on it?

Asked by  | 28th Jan, 2009, 09:50: PM

Expert Answer:

The color of an object depends on both the physics of the object in its environment and the characteristics of the perceiving eye and brain. Physically, objects can be said to have the color of the light leaving their surfaces, which normally depends on the spectrum of the incident illumination and the reflectance properties of the surface, as well as potentially on the angles of illumination and viewing. Some objects not only reflect light, but also transmit light or emit light themselves (see below), which contribute to the color also. And a viewer's perception of the object's color depends not only on the spectrum of the light leaving its surface, but also on a host of contextual cues, so that the color tends to be perceived as relatively constant: that is, relatively independent of the lighting spectrum, viewing angle, etc. This effect is known as color constancy.

  • Light arriving at an opaque surface is either reflected "specularly" (that is, in the manner of a mirror), scattered (that is, reflected with diffuse scattering), or absorbed – or some combination of these.
  • Opaque objects that do not reflect specularly (which tend to have rough surfaces) have their color determined by which wavelengths of light they scatter more and which they scatter less (with the light that is not scattered being absorbed). If objects scatter all wavelengths, they appear white. If they absorb all wavelengths, they appear black.

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Answered by  | 30th Jan, 2009, 11:27: AM

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