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Optics

Optics

The scientific study of light. Physical optics is concerned with the creation, nature, and properties of light. Psychological optics pertains to the role of light in vision. Geometrical optics deals with the properties of reflection and refraction of light, as part of the study of mirrors, lenses, and optical fibers.



As you can see from the dictionary definition above, the study of optics falls into three general categories: light itself, what it is and how it behaves; how we perceive light through the sense of sight; and how light can be manipulated through such processes as reflection and refraction. Although we talk of these categories as if they were separate and distinct, actually the whole reality of sight and vision constantly involves all of these categories in various combinations.

For example, consider a rainbow. This visual phenomenon not only involves both reflection and refraction, but also is a practical demonstration that different colors of light refract differently, even under fixed circumstances.


This set of pages is still under construction. As each discussion is completed, the appropriate links in the list below will be activated. The topics to be discussed (subject to change if needed) are:

  1. Basic Concepts. Here we explore the basic structure and behavior of light. Is light a wave or a particle? 
  2. Reflection and Refraction. These are two basic methods by which we can affect and control the behavior of light. 
  3. Colors and Filtering. White light is actually a mixture of all possible colors. Do different colors have slightly different properties? 
  4. Lenses. How and why do lenses work to concentrate and focus light? 
  5. Lasers. How can we generate light in such a way that it is all at the same wavelength and all traveling in the same direction? 
  6. Fiber Optics. How can a transparent thread of glass or plastic manage to hold light within itself and transmit it from one end to the other, even around corners? 
  7. Rainbows. One of the prettiest sights involving light and color, the rainbow is a special example of an optical phenomenon that has intrigued people throughout the ages. 



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