Science Faculty glows under infrared light

Posted 25 September 2020 9:53am

In Year 12 Physics we study a phenomena called “Black body radiation”. The theory of black body radiation states that all warm objects emit radiation. In everyday life we are used to the sun emitting visible light which helps us see. Since humans are warm we emit radiation; the difference is that the radiation we emit is in the infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Using an infrared camera (like in the image of the Science Faculty, above) we are able to see the light emitted from objects at everyday temperatures. In this image, the people are significantly warmer than the other objects, which means you can see them glowing against the background.

Fun fact: some snakes are able to see infrared light, so even in a pitch-black room, they would be able to see a mouse (or you) glowing. This makes them much more effective at hunting during the night.

Using the infrared camera, students are able to see black body radiation first hand. We are able to explore complex properties such as the “emissivity” of objects and verify Wien’s law which relates the colour of radiation to an object's temperature.

Lachlan McGinness
Physics Teacher

Photo at top: The Senior School Science Faculty pictured under infrared light.

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