Russell, Howard W. Formerly, Battelle Memorial Institute, Columbus, Ohio.
Harrison, George R. Formerly, School of Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Last reviewed:August 2020
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The emission of visible radiation by a hot body. A theoretically perfect radiator, called a blackbody, will emit radiant energy according to Planck's radiation law at any temperature. Prediction of the visual brightness requires additional consideration of the sensitivity of the eye, and the radiation will be visible only for temperatures of the blackbody which are above some minimum. The relation between brightness and temperature is plotted in the illustration. As shown, the minimum temperature for incandescence for the dark-adapted eye is about 730°F (390°C). Under these ideal observing conditions, the incandescence appears as a colorless glow. The dull red light commonly associated with incandescence of objects in a lighted room requires a temperature of about 930°F (500°C). See also: Blackbody; Heat radiation; Vision
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