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The Optics of LifeA Biologist's Guide to Light in Nature$
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Sönke Johnsen

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691139906

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691139906.001.0001

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Absorption

Absorption

Chapter:
(p.75) Chapter Four Absorption
Source:
The Optics of Life
Author(s):

Sönke Johnsen

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691139906.003.0004

This chapter focuses on absorption. Absorption has been called the “death of photons.” While the energy of a photon is never truly lost, most people find the conversion of photons into heat and chemical reactions less appealing than their original emission. However, without absorption, the earth would be a far less colorful place, with no paintings, flowers, leopard spots, or stained-glass windows. There would still be some colors due to interference and scattering, but people would be blind to them because human vision is based on absorption. More importantly, if nothing on earth absorbed light, the planet would be lifeless and cold. Understanding absorption helps one understand all the interactions of light with matter.

Keywords:   absorption, photons, color, human vision, light, matter

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