How can we understand the reflection of light by a metal surface?

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A piece of metal has electrons free to move through the entire solid. This is what makes a metal a metal: it conducts both electricity and heat easily, both are actually carried by currents of these freely moving electrons.  (Well, a little of the heat is carried by vibrations.) But metals are recognizable because they’re shiny—why’s that? Again, it’s those free electrons: they’re driven into large (relative to the atoms) oscillations by the electrical field of the incoming light wave, and this induced oscillating current radiates electromagnetically, just like a current in a transmitting antenna. This radiation is the reflected light.  For a shiny metal surface, little of the incoming radiant energy is absorbed as heat, it’s just reradiated, that is, reflected.

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