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Name: Cherryl
Status: other
Age: 30s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2000-2001


Question:
Why is snow white?


Replies:
For the same reason clouds and milk are white. Light striking the small ice crystals in snow both reflects (bounces off the surface) and refracts (changes direction when it penetrates the surface). Very little is absorbed, because water is only faintly colored (it is very slightly blue). Eventually, most light that strikes the snowbank either bounces off or works its way out after changing direction many times. This light appears to the eye to all be reflecting off the surface of the snow, so it looks just like any solid object. Since snow reflects or spits out light of all colors fairly equally, it appears white.

Richard E. Barrans Jr., Ph.D.
Assistant Director
PG Research Foundation, Darien, Illinois


Cherryl,

Snow is white because it reflects all wavelengths of light well. This is true of all ice, unless it contains alot of air (like an iceberg, which looks bluish).

D. Cook





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