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A Crazy Question

000ike
Posts: 11,196
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10/17/2011 2:16:46 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Imagine if there was a hollow sphere made out of mirror material, can it trap light for all eternity?

The inside of this sphere is full of neon gas. The inside wall of the sphere is a spherical mirror. It we were to pass an electric current through the neon gas, causing it to light up, would the light forever bounce off the mirror wall and keep the neon illuminated, forever?

Just a random curiosity.
"A stupid despot may constrain his slaves with iron chains; but a true politician binds them even more strongly with the chain of their own ideas" - Michel Foucault
Floid
Posts: 751
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10/17/2011 4:14:09 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
The problem is that nothing is 100% reflective so it would not. Everytime the light stuck a side of the sphere, a percentage would be reflected and a percentage would be transmitted/absorbed (lost).

Even if 99.999% of the light was reflected, at the rate light travels it would quickly decrease to a small fraction of its original intensity. Eventually it would drop down to a single photon which would eventually be absorbed and all your light would be gone.
000ike
Posts: 11,196
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10/17/2011 6:31:37 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 10/17/2011 4:14:09 PM, Floid wrote:
The problem is that nothing is 100% reflective so it would not. Everytime the light stuck a side of the sphere, a percentage would be reflected and a percentage would be transmitted/absorbed (lost).

Even if 99.999% of the light was reflected, at the rate light travels it would quickly decrease to a small fraction of its original intensity. Eventually it would drop down to a single photon which would eventually be absorbed and all your light would be gone.

http://www.cascadelaser.com... Are you sure? Okay, but what if there WAS a 100% reflective substance,..would it then be, theoretically, perpetual light?
"A stupid despot may constrain his slaves with iron chains; but a true politician binds them even more strongly with the chain of their own ideas" - Michel Foucault
darkkermit
Posts: 11,204
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10/17/2011 7:09:02 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 10/17/2011 6:31:37 PM, 000ike wrote:
At 10/17/2011 4:14:09 PM, Floid wrote:
The problem is that nothing is 100% reflective so it would not. Everytime the light stuck a side of the sphere, a percentage would be reflected and a percentage would be transmitted/absorbed (lost).

Even if 99.999% of the light was reflected, at the rate light travels it would quickly decrease to a small fraction of its original intensity. Eventually it would drop down to a single photon which would eventually be absorbed and all your light would be gone.

http://www.cascadelaser.com... Are you sure? Okay, but what if there WAS a 100% reflective substance,..would it then be, theoretically, perpetual light?

You can technically claim something to be 100% reflective even if it isn't. It's about significant figures. It can be 99.96% reflective and advertise as 100% If you only only use 3 significant figures. Yes, theoretically perpetual light, but that's like saying theoretical you can design a reversible system, a system where the change in entropy is 0.
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Floid
Posts: 751
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10/18/2011 7:13:45 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
Yes, I am pretty sure. If you could find a datasheet on those mirrors I would guess they are probably reflective down into the thousands of a pecent and they use significant figures as the other post mentioned to claim 100% reflective.

But for scientific purposes, there is no significant figure cutoff for your idea. It either is 100% or not and if it is not then the light will not perpetually bounce around. If you assumed a 100% reflective mirror, then it would.
Chuz-Life
Posts: 1,788
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10/18/2011 8:02:01 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
Think too that the sphere would have to be so perfectly made and sealed that any means used to verify that the light is still "on" would essentially kill it.

So everyone will just have to take your word for it, anyway.

[
"Sooner or later, the Supreme Court of the Unites States is going to have explain how a 'child in the womb' is a person enough to be recognized as a MURDER victim under our fetal homicide laws but how they are not persons enough to qualify for any other Constitutional protections" ~ Chuz Life

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Ren
Posts: 7,102
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10/18/2011 5:28:46 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Wow, that's a dope question.

Well, the answer is no.

Floid was right -- nothing is 100% reflective, and it is impossible that there is something that could be. I'm not sure what that "100% reflective mirror" was about, but given the nature of quantum mechanics, chances are that the mirror is not 100% reflective at all, or that "reflective" is a relative sales term.

Here's why:

When light, or photons, hits an object, it does not "bounce off" of it, in the way a sky bouncer rubber ball would bounce from concrete. Instead, it embeds into the atoms within the object that it strikes and becomes a "circulon." This collision causes a wave of energy, or, the transfer of electrons, across the object, depending on its transparency. The energy wave will pass right on through for transparent objects. In the case of mirrors, it is actually glass with some sort of metal, often silver, lining the back. This energy wave cannot permeate metals, as they are not transparent. However, they also have smooth surfaces with lots of free electrons, so the strike from the energy wave actually causes free electrons to bounce back.

Anyway, whether bouncing back to the initial surface or going clear through the other side, once this energy wave hits the surface, it may or may not strike a circulon embedded there. If it does, this circulon will convert back into a photon and shoot from the surface of the material.

Energy that does not hit a circulon leaves the material in the form of free energy, or heat.

Likely, depending on the amount of light you have bouncing around in there, your sphere would eventually melt.
000ike
Posts: 11,196
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10/18/2011 7:11:27 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 10/18/2011 5:28:46 PM, Ren wrote:
Wow, that's a dope question.

Well, the answer is no.

Floid was right -- nothing is 100% reflective, and it is impossible that there is something that could be. I'm not sure what that "100% reflective mirror" was about, but given the nature of quantum mechanics, chances are that the mirror is not 100% reflective at all, or that "reflective" is a relative sales term.

Here's why:

When light, or photons, hits an object, it does not "bounce off" of it, in the way a sky bouncer rubber ball would bounce from concrete. Instead, it embeds into the atoms within the object that it strikes and becomes a "circulon." This collision causes a wave of energy, or, the transfer of electrons, across the object, depending on its transparency. The energy wave will pass right on through for transparent objects. In the case of mirrors, it is actually glass with some sort of metal, often silver, lining the back. This energy wave cannot permeate metals, as they are not transparent. However, they also have smooth surfaces with lots of free electrons, so the strike from the energy wave actually causes free electrons to bounce back.

Anyway, whether bouncing back to the initial surface or going clear through the other side, once this energy wave hits the surface, it may or may not strike a circulon embedded there. If it does, this circulon will convert back into a photon and shoot from the surface of the material.

Energy that does not hit a circulon leaves the material in the form of free energy, or heat.

Likely, depending on the amount of light you have bouncing around in there, your sphere would eventually melt.

Thanks for the response. I couldn't understand most of that though.

by the way, does dope mean stupid?
"A stupid despot may constrain his slaves with iron chains; but a true politician binds them even more strongly with the chain of their own ideas" - Michel Foucault
kogline
Posts: 134
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10/19/2011 8:35:01 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 10/17/2011 2:16:46 PM, 000ike wrote:
Imagine if there was a hollow sphere made out of mirror material, can it trap light for all eternity?

The inside of this sphere is full of neon gas. The inside wall of the sphere is a spherical mirror. It we were to pass an electric current through the neon gas, causing it to light up, would the light forever bounce off the mirror wall and keep the neon illuminated, forever?

Just a random curiosity.

this is one of the first things i thought about when i first learned about two way mirros lol, i don't have anything to add to the discussion just interesting seeing this questiong after not thinking about it for a long time.
if state farm has perfected teleportation technology why do they still sell car insurance?
Ore_Ele
Posts: 25,980
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10/19/2011 10:12:13 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 10/18/2011 7:11:27 PM, 000ike wrote:
At 10/18/2011 5:28:46 PM, Ren wrote:
Wow, that's a dope question.

Well, the answer is no.

Floid was right -- nothing is 100% reflective, and it is impossible that there is something that could be. I'm not sure what that "100% reflective mirror" was about, but given the nature of quantum mechanics, chances are that the mirror is not 100% reflective at all, or that "reflective" is a relative sales term.

Here's why:

When light, or photons, hits an object, it does not "bounce off" of it, in the way a sky bouncer rubber ball would bounce from concrete. Instead, it embeds into the atoms within the object that it strikes and becomes a "circulon." This collision causes a wave of energy, or, the transfer of electrons, across the object, depending on its transparency. The energy wave will pass right on through for transparent objects. In the case of mirrors, it is actually glass with some sort of metal, often silver, lining the back. This energy wave cannot permeate metals, as they are not transparent. However, they also have smooth surfaces with lots of free electrons, so the strike from the energy wave actually causes free electrons to bounce back.

Anyway, whether bouncing back to the initial surface or going clear through the other side, once this energy wave hits the surface, it may or may not strike a circulon embedded there. If it does, this circulon will convert back into a photon and shoot from the surface of the material.

Energy that does not hit a circulon leaves the material in the form of free energy, or heat.

Likely, depending on the amount of light you have bouncing around in there, your sphere would eventually melt.

Thanks for the response. I couldn't understand most of that though.

by the way, does dope mean stupid?

Yes, but not so much in an insultive way. It is more on par with "goofball" or something of the like. Basically, the common imagry is of Dopey from the 7 dwarves, who is portrayed in a positive and comical manner.
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Ren
Posts: 7,102
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10/19/2011 4:31:05 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 10/19/2011 10:12:13 AM, Ore_Ele wrote:
At 10/18/2011 7:11:27 PM, 000ike wrote:
At 10/18/2011 5:28:46 PM, Ren wrote:
Wow, that's a dope question.

Well, the answer is no.

Floid was right -- nothing is 100% reflective, and it is impossible that there is something that could be. I'm not sure what that "100% reflective mirror" was about, but given the nature of quantum mechanics, chances are that the mirror is not 100% reflective at all, or that "reflective" is a relative sales term.

Here's why:

When light, or photons, hits an object, it does not "bounce off" of it, in the way a sky bouncer rubber ball would bounce from concrete. Instead, it embeds into the atoms within the object that it strikes and becomes a "circulon." This collision causes a wave of energy, or, the transfer of electrons, across the object, depending on its transparency. The energy wave will pass right on through for transparent objects. In the case of mirrors, it is actually glass with some sort of metal, often silver, lining the back. This energy wave cannot permeate metals, as they are not transparent. However, they also have smooth surfaces with lots of free electrons, so the strike from the energy wave actually causes free electrons to bounce back.

Anyway, whether bouncing back to the initial surface or going clear through the other side, once this energy wave hits the surface, it may or may not strike a circulon embedded there. If it does, this circulon will convert back into a photon and shoot from the surface of the material.

Energy that does not hit a circulon leaves the material in the form of free energy, or heat.

Likely, depending on the amount of light you have bouncing around in there, your sphere would eventually melt.

Thanks for the response. I couldn't understand most of that though.

by the way, does dope mean stupid?

Yes, but not so much in an insultive way. It is more on par with "goofball" or something of the like. Basically, the common imagry is of Dopey from the 7 dwarves, who is portrayed in a positive and comical manner.

No.

Dope is a colloquialism that is synonymous with "cool" or "impressive."
RoyLatham
Posts: 4,488
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11/14/2011 10:00:09 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
If a sphere could be made that was 100% reflective, then light could bounce around inside forever. A box or any shape would work.

Neon would not stay lit, because the neon glows when electrical energy is converted into photons. Without electricity applied there would be no additional conversion. Also, if there were any gas in the box, the gas would eventually absorb the light and heat up.

I don't know if it is theoretically possible to make a 100% reflector. A reflector works by the electric field of the light inducing a field in the surface. Usually, the surface molecules absorb some of the energy as heat. Maybe if the surface were made of a superconductor, the induced field would have all the energy and the reflector could be perfect.

Is there a 911 number for physicists?