The subfield of optics in which light propagation is approximated in terms of rays. It mainly includes reflection and refraction on surfaces.

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

23
votes
3answers
128k views

Virtual vs Real image

I'm doing magnification and lens in class currently, and I really don't get why virtual and real images are called what they are. A virtual image occurs the object is less than the focal length of ...
225
votes
21answers
77k views

A mirror flips left and right, but not up and down

Why is it that when you look in the mirror left and right directions appear flipped, but not the up and down?
6
votes
4answers
8k views

Software for geometrical optics

Is there any good software for construction optical path's in geometrical optics. More specifically I want features like: draw $k \in \mathbb{N}$ objects $K_1,\dots,K_n$ with indices of refraction ...
28
votes
4answers
3k views

Is it possible to focus the radiation from a black body to make something hotter than that black body?

My previous question wasn't specific enough. I'll try to be more specific. Let's imagine we have a hot body let's say 6000K hot that emits lots of thermal radiation. Let's assume 1kW of radiative ...
6
votes
5answers
455 views

Trapping a lightray

Given a solid whose interior is a hollow sphere with perfectly reflecting mirrors. A small hole is drilled in the sphere and a photon is sent in at some angle. Will it always eventually exit through ...
68
votes
5answers
7k views

Is it possible to start fire using moonlight?

You can start fire by focusing the sunlight using the magnifying glass. I searched the web whether you can do the same using moonlight. And found this and this - the first two in Google search ...
18
votes
2answers
3k views

Does light reflect if incident at exactly the critical angle?

A lot of textbooks and exam boards claim that light incident at exactly the critical angle is transmitted along the media boundary (i.e. at right-angles to the normal), but this seems to violate the ...
3
votes
2answers
200 views

How does Huygens Principle incorporate the unidirectional property of a traveling wave?

I was reading French's Vibrations & Waves where he discusses Huygens-Frensel Principle. The principle talks about how secondary sources give rise to secondary wavelets to form the displaced ...
1
vote
1answer
177 views

How is Fermat's least time principle proven?

How is Fermat's least time principle proven? Or it is what usually is observed and is basis for the theories?
2
votes
2answers
1k views

Calculating light's lateral shift in a glass slab

I have tried to compute light's lateral shift after passing through a glass slab In terms of the incidence angle $\theta_1$, the slab thickness $d$ and the refraction index $n$, I have found that ...
3
votes
1answer
5k views

Analytic solution for angle of minimum deviation?

Consider a simple prism with a prism angle $A$, angle of incidence $\theta_1$, angle of emergence $\theta_4$ and the first and second angle of refraction as $\theta_2,\theta_3$. the refractive index ...
3
votes
3answers
10k views

Clarification needed in the concept of apparent depth & real depth

I understood the concept of apparent depth from here: But one thing I didn't understand is, will there be difference in the real depth and apparent depth when we are looking not at an angle as ...
2
votes
2answers
96 views

Is it possible to build an optical system that increases the perceived surface brightness?

So is it possbile to build a system from lenses and mirrors that can make faint gas nebulas brighter or can be used as nightvision? If you increase the size of the aperture of a telescope it will ...
1
vote
2answers
1k views

How to Ray Trace Chief and Marginal Rays in Thin Lens Systems

Looking at the below images, the chief and marginal ray appear to be modeled just fine. But, those lines don't seem to conform to the rules typically used in thin lens ray traces. An example of ...
0
votes
1answer
129 views

Determining the path of a light ray

Let's consider a ray in the plane $xy$. Let the refractive index be defined in any point of the plane with the function $n(x,y)$. In time $t=0$ the ray is located in coordinates $(x_0, y_0)$ and its ...
116
votes
2answers
7k views

Why do sunbeams diverge even though the sun is much more than a few kilometers away?

Consider this picture of sun beams streaming onto the valley through the clouds. Given that the valley is only (at a guess) 3km wide, with simple trigonometry and the angles of the beams, this ...
39
votes
5answers
5k views

If a lens focuses all incoming light to a point, how do we get 2D images?

How do lenses produce 2-dimensional images, if a lens bends all incoming rays of light to intersect at the focal point? Shouldn't this produce a single dot of light on a screen placed at the focal ...
5
votes
2answers
12k views

Why do things that are far away seem smaller?

As you see things that are far smaller, a funny question about this: Imagine there are many people in a row (all are same height) ...
9
votes
3answers
4k views

Why Does Passing Light Through a Slit Make it Coherent?

Related: Why incoherent source of waves have to be passed though a single slit for double slit interference pattern to occur? If you have a an incoherent light source, why does passing it through a ...
3
votes
2answers
318 views

Shack-Hartmann wavefront sensor concepts, pupil conjugate planes?

I am just starting to looking at the application of wavefront abberommtery to measure abberations in the human eye. I am confused over the pupil conjugate planes, do you use relay lenses to image the ...
3
votes
1answer
82 views

What are the common points between physical optics and geometric optics? [closed]

I am trying to write a paper about light, I want to discuss the two way of studying light, the physical/wave optics and the geometric/ray optics, but I want to write a general introduction about them, ...
3
votes
2answers
253 views

How did ancient physicists around 500 BC decide that the earth is spherical?

One of the standard stories that is given for this (and is mentioned in Aristotle) is that the hull of a ship disappears first as it sails towards the horizon on a calm sunny day. Is this a myth, or ...
4
votes
1answer
288 views

Why doesn't a backward wave exist? [duplicate]

Huygens principle says every point of wavefront emit wavelet in all directions. Then why does a back ward wave not exist? Can any expert tell real answer? On different sites I get different and ...
3
votes
3answers
764 views

Snell's law starting from QED? [duplicate]

Can one "interpret" Snell's law in terms of QED and the photon picture? How would one justifiy this interpretation with some degree of mathematical rigour? At the end I would like to have a direct ...
2
votes
4answers
682 views

Is there any optical component that uniformizes the incoming light?

Is there any optical component in existence that uniformizes randomly pointing rays?
2
votes
2answers
3k views

Fresnel distance and Geometrical limit

I read about the geometrical limit of wave theory. The source from where I read had a slightly different explanation to provide than here(The more rigorous answer is too complicated for me to ...
2
votes
1answer
588 views

Eikonal approximation for wave optics. Why follow the unit vector parallel to the Pointing vector?

The description of the passage from wave optics to geometrical optics claims that light rays are the integral curves of a certain vector field (the Pointing vector direction, normalized to 1). Here ...
1
vote
1answer
430 views

Numerical aperture of a lens

Using a laser setup, I was asked to determine the aperture of a given lens and then use some geometrical arguments and compare the theoretical value from the manufacturer and the experimental value. ...
2
votes
1answer
2k views

Huygens' Principle During Reflection: comparing wavelets from before reflection with wavelets from during reflection

I was recently reviewing geometric optics, during which I read about Huygens' Principle and how it could be used to prove the Law of Reflection from the "light is a wave" viewpoint. I'll quote what I ...
2
votes
1answer
288 views

Good resource for geometric optics

I'm looking for a good resource (preferably a book) on geometric optics. I am thorough with the basics (the mirror formula, lensmaker's formula, thin lens formula, etc). What I want is something that ...
2
votes
1answer
389 views

How to calculate the refracted light path when refraction index continuously increasing?

Suppose an incident light from vacuum ($n_1=1.0$) into some media ($n_2=n_1+\mu\; x^2$) as in the figure below. How to calculate the refracted light path curve in closed form? Update: Try to set ...
2
votes
2answers
533 views

Calculating the rainbow angle

I've read that the angle for viewing a Primary Rainbow is between 40-42 degrees. How would I go about showing this? How would I calculate that angle from scratch? I figured that Snell's Law and the ...
1
vote
2answers
381 views

Calculate the polarization vector on reflection or refraction from a dielectric interface

I am interested in ray-tracing polarized photons. I have code that works very well for unpolarized light. When a ray hits a dielectric interface the photon is either reflected or refracted by ...
0
votes
1answer
54 views

In geometric optics we treat light as a collection of particles?

I've been reading the book "Geometric Mechancis" by Darryl Holm and the in the first chapter he treats geometric optics. There the author talks about light rays and those light rays looks like ...
0
votes
0answers
54 views

What is a good textbook to learn how to ray trace light through an optics system in 3d? [duplicate]

I can do 2d problems easily, but I need to learn more to do a 3D ray trace. Can you guys point me towards a textbook? I'm having trouble dealing with the normal and incident rays in 3D
0
votes
2answers
265 views

Ray tracing in a inhomogeneous media

If I have an optical transparent slab with refractive index $n$ depending on the distance $x$ from the surface of the slab, the refractive index can be described by: $$n(x)=f(x)$$ where $f(x)$ is a ...
0
votes
1answer
441 views

Phase and amplitude information of an image

By applying Fourier Transform to an image we can get its magnitude as well as phase spectrum. A magnitude spectrum describes how various frequencies are attenuated and accentuated in that image but ...
0
votes
1answer
468 views

Image formed in a compound light microscope

I am trying to understand whether the image formed in a compound light microscope is at infinity or not. I get conflicting answers everywhere I look.
0
votes
1answer
704 views

How does the Fraunhofer irradiance distribution look for a double slit aperture of different lengths?

How does the Fraunhofer irradiance distribution look for a double slit aperture with $d$ = integer multiples of $b$?