Which reason best explains why metals are shiny
Which reason best explains why metals are shiny? Most people would say that metals are shiny because the metal’s surface reflects light to your eye, creating a polished appearance. However, this isn’t true at all. Scientists discovered long ago that metals are dull grey and have no shine until they are polished. Polishing removes corrosion and other impurities from the metal, revealing its natural glow. The reason that polished metal appears shiny to us is the way our eyes see colour. What we call it has nothing to do with what it looks like!
Light reflects off a metal
Metals are shiny because light reflects off the metal. Light waves bounce off the surface of the metal and deliberate in all directions. This is how a mirror works. Like when you look into a mirror and see your reflection, light bounces off a metal object and creates an image. In this case. It’s just an upside-down image of the thing that reflects off the metal–sort of like what happens with a spoon in a glass of water.
Metal absorbs light
Metals like gold and silver are reflective because the atoms within them have an odd number of electrons. If a metal has more electrons than protons, it’s classified as a positive metal, and if there are more protons than electrons, it’s classified as harmful. When light strikes the surface of a metal, its photons (or particles of light) either get absorbed or reflected, depending on the type of metal. Photons that get absorbed give off energy in the form of heat and cause something called thermoluminescence- meaning they turn black when heated up. Those that get reflected are what make metals shiny!
Metal atoms absorb energy from light.
Most people think that metals are shiny because they have smooth surfaces. However, this is not the case. Metallic compounds reflect light better than non-metallic compounds, and they absorb less light and heat energy than other types of materials. This is one of the reasons why they are attractive to use in jewellery and cooking pots.
Metallic compounds reflect light better than non-metallic compounds
As the science behind metal surfaces is more complex than just a single explanation for shininess, it isn’t easy to pinpoint a specific reason. However, as metallic compounds reflect light better than non-metallic compounds, one hypothesis is that this causes the reflective sheen.
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