How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works

Question 357

Why do different sunglasses appear darker than others?
Polarizing sunglasses block half the light (stopping horizontally polarized light and passing only vertically polarized light). But sunglasses of all types contain chemicals that absorb light of both polarizations. The darkness of the sunglasses depends on which chemicals are used and how much of those chemicals they contain. Some sunglasses are also coated with thin metallic layers that reflect a fraction of the light that strikes them. These semi-transparent mirrors can change the transmission of the sunglasses dramatically so that those sunglasses may transmit 50% of the light or 0.01% of the light. The manufacturer can choose.

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