If atoms are mostly empty, then why is matter opaque

(ORDO NEWS) — For the most part , atoms are actually empty space , but this “emptiness” is still relative, as it is filled by the electromagnetic fields generated by the electrons inside the atom.

These fields have a significant effect on light waves when they hit the surface of a material. The longer the wavelength, the harder it is for light to squeeze through the electromagnetic fields of electrons to get through.

However, when switching to shorter wavelength radiation such as X-rays or gamma rays, we can observe that even relatively dense materials become “transparent”. A striking example of this is radiography, which allows you to look inside a person without surgical intervention.

Curious fact

Right now, as you read this material, thousands, millions of neutrinos are constantly flying through you – the general name for neutral fundamental particles that participate only in weak and gravitational interactions.

These particles are called elusive, since they fly through any obstacles in their path: highly sensitive detectors, scientific underground complexes, a planet with its core, stars, etc.

If atoms are mostly empty then why is matter opaque 2
This is how part of the underground detector for hunting neutrinos looks like

It is the conditional emptiness of the atoms that make up you and me (and the world around us) that ensures safe interaction with neutrinos.

Matter is transparent to certain types of radiation, but opaque in the optical range. If we had x-ray vision, then we would see everything (well, almost everything) through.


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