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shiny shoes

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taemoon | 01:10 Wed 14th Sep 2005 | Science
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For my physics synoptic alevel i had to answer "everyday" physics problems. one was how can shoes be shiny and black. Since black is an absense of reflection? I know it must be simple but still cant figure it out.



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There are two sources of light that you are seeing.  There is the light that is reflected from the surface of the shoes and there is the light that is not absorbed by the material in the shoes (the absorption occurs very near the surface).  The amount that is reflected at the surface has a lot to do with how the surface is prepared / polished. Since the shoes are highly polished, they reflect a great deal of light.  Scuffed or rough texture black shoes appear black but do not reflect much light and therefore, do not appear shiny...

Shoes have a layer of wax on them - the layer of wax reflects a small amount of light giving the shiney appearence but most light penetrates to the surface.

Think about a layer of oil on the road or celophane on a pack of sandwiches.

This can be made to work the other way. You can coat thin layers on lenses to reduce the amount of light that is reflected by the glass surface - This is called blooming 

This is called blooming clever if it works

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