Watch man use Japanese knife to make paper-thin cuts of vegetables

To add further complication, materials have different levels of refraction/absorbtion/scattering depending on the wavelength of the light passing through. So you can have sunglasses that are transparent the visible spectrum, but opaque to UV. Colored glass simply has narrow absorption bands at certain colors. It’s a messy topic when you start getting down into the details.

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“Translucent” means it lets light through, and is the opposite of “opaque”; “transparent” means you can see things through it.

Transparent materials are implicitly translucent, but in informal usage we tend to say “translucent” only for things that are not transparent. There is no formal distinction in that usage; if something is translucent, then it will be also transparent if it is thin enough.

In terms of the physics, transparency means that light passes through the material in a straight line (though it may be attenuated, as with sunglass lenses). Other translucent materials allow light through, but scatter it in all directions. So, if you view a candle through a transparent material, you can see the details of flame, but if you look at it through a solely translucent material, you see the light coming from the surface of the material – you can’t make out the details of the flame because the directions of the light rays are randomised.

At the micro level, there’s only transparency. To understand how translucency works, it is helpful to think of the textured glass that is often used on fluorescent tube diffusers. Close up, you can see it’s just normal glass (or polycarbonate), but from further away all the little lenses merge together and you just see the light coming from the surface of the diffuser:

Scaled down, this is exactly what you’re seeing when you look through, say, a glass of watered-down milk. It’s a bunch of microscopic spheres of transparent fat, floating in transparent water (with a different refractive index). All the light gets through, but you can’t tell what direction it was coming from before it hit the glass of milk, so you can’t see through it.

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Any good Japanese-style knife with a quality blade, especially one with a layered/Damascus type blade as that one should do, it’s getting it sharp enough that’s key. There are plenty of videos around regarding making blades as sharp as this, there’s one guy who makes blades out of aluminium foil, cling film, etc, then sets about sharpening them to do what this guy does. It requires a number of Japanese waterstones of increasing grades of fineness, starting around 600, stepping up to 10-15,000, and hours of dedication and practice.
A blade that sharp is pretty useless for day-to-day use, far too easily damaged, and, frankly, dangerous to handle.

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There are TONS of custom makers who would be willing to make you a knife like that to your specs. Most will charge you appropriately for their hard work, but there are some who do it pretty cheaply.

Also, there are a lot of decent higher quality production knives that should be able to accomplish this with appropriate sharpening, and user skills.

That seems right. This seems more a video about knife stropping skills than knife using skills. I assume that between each slice there was a healthy amount of very fine stropping work. Nobody could ever do this in their kitchen.

It’s a ridiculously and impractically sharp knife that makes this possible, otherwise no amount of “knife skills” would make a difference, and I really don’t think “Knife skills” that can’t be acquired by anyone very familiar with a kitchen knife would make any difference at all

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