Take the 2-minute tour ×
Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I need to learn basic optics for a high school academic competition. Does anyone know any good places, preferably free and online, to learn the basics of optics, like lenses, angles of incidence, etc.? I can't seem to find an MIT OpenCourseWare course addressing the issue.

share|improve this question
add comment

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted


Scroll down till #145, that's where optics starts. If you want just lenses, start with the 'virtual image' one.

If not for your online-only request, I would have suggested Resnick-Halliday-Walker. IMHO, that's just about the best book for classical anything

share|improve this answer
Well, it said "preferably" free and online, not "necessarily," so I think HRW is a fair answer to this question. –  David Z Feb 22 '12 at 3:50
@DavidZaslavsky Good point. –  Manishearth Feb 22 '12 at 3:52
Thanks for the link. I like Khan Academy's more wordy explanation - it let's me get an intuitive and quantitative understanding. Also, thanks for the book link although it's a bit out of my means. –  Eric Thoma Feb 23 '12 at 1:51
add comment

Fundamentals of Optics- Jenkinson and White is a great book. Just google different aspects of optics. I recommend pounding in your head Snell's law and Index of refraction(putting Snell's law to work). Let me know if you have any questions (I'm majoring in optics) ddiponzio@gmail.com

share|improve this answer
Thanks for the book link. I'll definitely let you know if I have any questions; I do find optics to be a more interesting area of physics, and I imagine it becomes even more so with lasers and spooky quantum effects. –  Eric Thoma Feb 23 '12 at 1:53
oh yes it does! I work at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics in Rochester NY. It's amazing to see what happens in the quantum level. Really strange stuff. –  ddip214 Feb 23 '12 at 5:07
add comment

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.