• William W. Hay


Air is composed of the molecules of the diatomic gases nitrogen and oxygen, a very small amount of atomic argon, and multi atomic trace gases such as CO2, CH4, and N2O, which can absorb and reradiate energy. The atmosphere is filled with photons representing the incoming and outgoing radiation. It is the kinetic motion of air molecules we recognize as sensible (measurable) heat. But the molecules have other motions, vibration, and rotation. Photons can interact with the major gases to impart kinetic energy, and in extreme instances to cause ionization. Interaction of photons with oxygen and nitrogen molecules scatters the light to produce the blue sky. Interactions between molecules of air in the upper atmosphere with cosmic rays can cause showers of subatomic particles.


Thermal Neutron Rayleigh Scattering Black Body Radiation Billiard Ball Visible Light Range 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Colorado at BoulderEstes ParkUSA

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