This is part of a series on common misconceptions.
Is this true or false?
A perfect transparent material will look black.
Why some people say it's true: No light is reflected back from a perfectly transparent material.
Why some people say it's false: Light is not absorbed by a perfect transparent material.
The statement is .
First, let's understand how we see the color of any object. When white light falls on an object, the whole spectrum is not reflected. Rather, only a few specific frequencies are reflected. When these reflected frequencies reach the eye of a person, he sees colors corresponding to those frequencies that enter his eye.
Now, consider a situation in which all visible light falling on an object gets absorbed, and nothing or something negligible is reflected back or transmitted through it. What will the person see? No light after falling on the object reaches the eyes; thus, he sees no color, which is perceived as black color.
In the case of a perfect transparent object, almost all the light goes through it. Now, the question arises that if in this case as well, no light is reflected back to the eyes of the person, then why it does not appear black. The difference here is, in the case of a perfect transparent object, light from the bodies lying behind the transparent object can reach the eyes. Thus, the person will see the objects behind the transparent object. Therefore, for the eyes, the transparent object is invisible.
Query: Is being transparent the same as being invisible?
Reply: Being invisible is a special case of transparency where it is 100% transparent.
Query: Does a transparent material not reflect any EM radiations?
Reply: A transparent object allows visible spectrum to pass through it without any absorption or reflection. But, it may absorb or reflect radiations other than visible light.