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Fluorescent lamp flickers and incandescent lamp does not!

Swathi asked:

Why do fluorescent lights flicker (tube lights) while Incandescent bulbs don’t , especially when they are switched on..Is it an effect of the pulses as sensed by the retina?

Ans:

If your question is regarding the start up flickering,

the fluorescent lamp requires a very high voltage to start conducting. In a lit up tube light, the conduction is taking place through the gas filled inside the tube. As you know, air is a bad conductor. To make it conducting, it is to be ionized first. This is done by developing a very high potential difference between the two ends of the tube by the combined action of starter and the choke. Starter is a make and break arrangement which makes the supply intermittent. When the supply is disturbed, a huge potential difference is developed and flashes produced inside the tube ionizes the gas inside the tube. After such a few occurrences, the gas will be ionized enough to make the gas conducting. During this process lot of UV radiations are emitted. This strikes the fluorescent coating on the tube which converts UV radiations to visible light. So, the tube light flickers due to the action of starter during the startup time.

But, if your question is with regard to the flickering of a lit up fluorescent lamp, …………. 

I will answer it later

Black Holes and Thermal Radiation

Varun G asked

“Do black holes produce thermal radiation, as expected on theoretical grounds and do they absorb light?”

Ans: Hope you are talking about the Hawking radiation.

Any body at a temperature above absolute zero emits radiations. If the temperature of black body is not absolute zero (It was Stephen Hawking who predicted that black holes should have a finite, non-zero temperature, and hence the name “Hawking Radiation”) it will emit radiation.

In a black hole emitting radiation, there is a loss of mass. If the mass decreased due to Hawking Radiation is more than the mass gained by the black holes via alternate means, the net mass of the black holes will go on decreasing. (This is called “black hole evaporation” Further, it has been noted that the black holes with lower mass emit more radiations than the heavier ones.

This answer may seem contradicting the definition of black hole itself.

“A black hole is a body whose gravitational force of attraction is so huge that even electromagnetic radiation cannot escape from it” as the definition goes.

But the Hawking Radiation is caused by Quantum effects. The processes behind the “escape” of radiation from a black hole is thought to be

  • Vacuum Fluctuations and
  • Quantum tunneling

The above terms and concept will be too high to be discussed at school level. However for the curious ones, I am giving some links to explore.

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