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Why is water/glass transparent?

Why is water transparent?
Emilie from Cheshire (Age 5-14)

Why is glass transparent while other solids are not?
Paul Wilkins from Greater London (Age: 45-54)

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One Response

  1. For something to be transparent it should not interact with visible light. If it absorbs light then, depending on the wavelengths of light absorbed, it will be coloured. If there is too much coloured material it will not be possible to see through it (you can try this by making orange squash with different amounts of squash compared to water). If it scatters like then it will appear “cloudy” and difficult to see through Scattered light is why milk is not transparent. Scattering is caused by large particles (in milk this is the fat droplets which is why low fat milk is easier to see through).

    The simple answer is that water straight from the tap contains no molecules that absorb or scatter visible light so is transparent. This is not true of all water of course. Lakes, rivers and seas all contain particles that can scatter and absorb light to different degrees. These can include living organisms. So outside the kitchen or bath tub water is not always transparent.

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