Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Overstock.com employees: helpful but not accurate

Welcome to Overstock.com, you are now chatting with 'Tony'
Tony: Thanks for visiting Overstock.com, this is Tony, how can I help you?
Matt: I was wondering if you could tell me why the sky is blue.
Tony: I do not have the exact information on that, however, I personally feel that the water color gets reflected on to the sky that's why its blue in color.

Ahh, so close Tony! In fact, so close that upon a cursory glance, I just assumed you had gotten it right because you used the magic word "reflected." Indeed, something is reflecting, but it is not water droplets.

According to my fuzzy memory of Mr. Wizard and other infotainment, the sky is blue because... um... something about the light being scattered... DAMMIT. Um, Google?

"The blue color of the sky is due to Rayleigh scattering. As light moves through the atmosphere, most of the longer wavelengths pass straight through. Little of the red, orange and yellow light is affected by the air.

However, much of the shorter wavelength light is absorbed by the gas molecules. The absorbed blue light is then radiated in different directions. It gets scattered all around the sky. Whichever direction you look, some of this scattered blue light reaches you. Since you see the blue light from everywhere overhead, the sky looks blue." --http://www.sciencemadesimple.com/sky_blue.html

And there you have it! What have we learned today? 1) The sky is blue because of scattering. 2) When bored, a fun way of passing the time is chatting with Overstock.com online help and asking them science questions.

No comments: