PhysLink.com Logo

Question

Theoretically would light infinitely bounce, in a room made of perfect mirrors?
Asked by: N.N.

Answer

Yes, light would bounce forever in a room made of perfect mirrors. A perfect mirror reflects all of the light incident on it according to the laws of classical optics. There is no loss through either transmission of the light or conversion of light energy into another form (atomic vibrations, etc.). However, this scenario breaks down when real mirrors are used. Since mirrors are made of atoms, and not perfectly-flat perfectly-reflecting surfaces, all of the light is not reflected. Thus, light will not bounce forever if we use real mirrors, the light intensity would decrease with each bounce.
Answered by: Andreas Birkedal-Hansen, M.A., Physics Grad Student, UC Berkeley






Science Quote

'In a way science is a key to the gates of heaven, and the same key opens the gates of hell, and we do not have any instructions as to which is which gate. Shall we throw away the key and never have a way to enter the gates of heaven? Or shall we struggle with the problem of which is the best way to use the key?'

Richard Phillips Feynman
(1918-1988)





All rights reserved. © Copyright '1995-'2018 PhysLink.com