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

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167
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17answers
53k 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?
17
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3answers
58k 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 ...
15
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2answers
577 views

Can't seem to reconcile geometric optics and wave optics

I was looking at a physics situation involving light, and I can make the correct derivation assuming light is a ray of a given intensity (geometric optics), energy conservation checks out, everything. ...
11
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1answer
321 views

light ray 'entropy'

Is there something like an entropy law for light rays? I came up with the following experiment: A black box has two circular holes in it, a small and a large one. I don't care about there ...
8
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2answers
222 views

Why does a blue sky at dusk appear nearly black through a telescope?

Earlier this evening I was looking at the Moon through my cheap toy telescope (x150 magnification) when I noticed a (rather mundane) optical effect I couldn't explain. The Sun had just dipped below ...
7
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8answers
1k views

Is it possible to make glasses that make everything brighter, but do not magnify or focus?

Corrective glasses are usually intended to help focus light on your retina. Supposing I had good vision already, but simply wanted more light, could I make glasses that would send more light into my ...
7
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2answers
697 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
804 views

Can you shake your reflection's hand?

For a spherical mirror, an object at the mirror's center has an image that is also at the center. Its magnification is $-1$. For a video showing this, see here. If you stand slightly behind the ...
7
votes
1answer
800 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 ...
7
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2answers
103 views

Is light red shifted in optical tweezers?

This is a question I put to my supervisor during my PhD many years ago, and never really got a satisfactory answer to. In an optical tweezers, assume that a beam of light is used to move a glass ...
6
votes
2answers
774 views

Do all light rays from a point passing through a thin lens converge at the image?

I have often seen diagrams, like this one on Wikipedia for a thin convex lens that show three lines from a point on the object converging at the image. Do all the other lines from that point on the ...
5
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5answers
377 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 ...
5
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2answers
337 views

How to place a mirror parallel to a wall?

For one of my experimental setup I need to place a mirror perfectly parallel to a wall. It can be placed at any distance from the wall. I would like to use any method other than direct measurement. I ...
4
votes
2answers
188 views

Converting indices of refraction

If I know that the index of refraction of a given substance is 1.4 for the average wavelength (say 550 nm), and I would like to know what is the index of refraction with a wavelength of 832 nm, how ...
4
votes
2answers
6k 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) ...
4
votes
2answers
329 views

Goldfish perspective

What does the world look like from the Goldfish point of view, from inside a spherical aquarium? If our eyes were inside, would we be able to see the straight lines, focus on different objects and ...
4
votes
2answers
826 views

How to make the projected image smaller by adding one ore more lenses in front of the built in projector lense?

I have a projector that creates a large image, even if the distance to the screen is short. The device is very small, approximateley 10x10 cm if you look from above. The height is only 3 cm. I ...
4
votes
2answers
3k 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
535 views

Virtual images in (plane) mirrors?

The following image is taken from teaching physics lecture Was man aus virtuellen Bildern lernen kann (in German): Now the cited paper claims that the left hand side is the correct picture to ...
4
votes
2answers
2k views

How to find the principal point in an image?

I need to find the principal point in an image. Its a point where the principal axis intersects the image sensor. Due to misalignment this point is not at the center of image always(or image sensor). ...
4
votes
1answer
181 views

On the optics of high-resolution surveillance drones

In this youtube video (which is an except from a documentation I believe) a DARPA development for a high-resolution surveillance camera is presented. This question is regarding the optics that are ...
4
votes
3answers
147 views

Why do the passing objects' shadows run in the direction of the moving train?

While travelling in the train on the sunset, I have noticed the strange phenomenon. The shadows of the lonely trees and lampposts, that stay along the railroad, are moving on the wall in the same ...
4
votes
0answers
32 views

How does a microscopes optics expose defects in the users vision?

I've got cataracts in both eyes. My vision is correctable to 20/30, so the cataracts are essentially a non-issue in daily living. But when I use a microscope, which I do daily, (binocular, zoom ...
3
votes
3answers
4k views

Cladding of optical fibers

Why do optical fibers usually have a cladding? Ok, if you put make a bundle of optical fibers this prevents that light leaks from one fiber to another fiber in contact. However, are there other ...
3
votes
2answers
97 views

Is it possible to focus the sun in such way?

Imagine the sliding part of the mirror is controlled by computer and opens on intervals. Is it possible to increase the power of the beam by making it bounce between the mirrors thus going through ...
3
votes
1answer
149 views

Why a star commonly exhibits 6 rays?

Have you realized, that often the photo of a star shows 6 rays spreaded symmetrically around it, independently of the camera chosen? Do you have idea of what kind of optical phenomena is behind it?
3
votes
3answers
2k views

Why should optical fibers be thin?

What are the reasons that optical fibers have to be thin (small radius of the fiber)? Is there a good picture which explains this in detail?
3
votes
1answer
678 views

Beam splitters- Direction of use

There are two cases I'm asking about. The square in the middle is a cube beam splitter in the same orientation for both cases. We are looking at the beam splitter from the top. In the first case, ...
3
votes
2answers
214 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 ...
3
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3answers
545 views

Snell's law starting from qft? [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 ...
3
votes
3answers
4k views

How do contact lenses work?

I understand how telescope, microscope and glasses work. But how do contact lenses work?
3
votes
2answers
244 views

Redirecting light beams from beam splitters

I'm doing a project where I am taking a laser beam and sending it through a beam splitter. As I understand, approximately 50% of the light will go pass through and 50% will be reflected. So this means ...
3
votes
1answer
264 views

Which lens parameters determines it's format?

I'm working with a megapixel sensor with a 1/2" format. I would like to know which parameters have to be taken into account in order to design a lens that can be fit with 1/2" format. The light ...
3
votes
2answers
193 views

Fermat's principle to prove the law of reflection

Fermat's principle tells that a light ray will follow a path from point $A$ to point $B$ so that the optical path length of this path is an extremum over neighboring paths. I wanted to use this ...
3
votes
1answer
62 views

Why is there no dark band below a rainbow?

I've read articles about Descartes' theory of the rainbow and I can understand why there is a dark band of about 8 degrees (Alexander's band) between the primary and secondary bows: for all the water ...
3
votes
3answers
298 views

What does it mean that a wavevector is null?

I have derived geometric optics for gravitational waves and I am trying to interpret one of the results. I have \begin{equation} k_{\rho}k^{\rho}=0 \end{equation} for the wavevector. For the case ...
3
votes
2answers
156 views

Proof that a spherical lens is stigmatic

In geometric optics, we generally allow that, for example in the case of a convex lens, rays coming from a particular point get refracted towards another particular point on the opposite side of the ...
3
votes
1answer
66 views

Reconciling total internal reflection and the evanescent Wave

I understand that light is guided in a dielectric waveguide via total internal reflection. My question is regarding the origin of power contained in the evanescent field traveling along the direction ...
3
votes
0answers
79 views

Optics: finding total power of a syste, including wavelength

Specifically I need to create an ABCD matrix given 2 radii of curvatures, the thickness of the lens, type of glass (BK7) and a given wavelength. I will have to figure this out eventually, so help ...
2
votes
2answers
89 views

Why would the reflection of a lamp by a bowl look like a heart?

I have this bowl roughly the shape of a circular truncated cone, and the lamp shines on the bowl at an angle. The reflected lamp light hit the bottom of the bowl and created a light ring that looks ...
2
votes
3answers
431 views

Two different mediums can have equal index of refraction?

In other words: given a certain medium, is light's phase velocity unique?
2
votes
3answers
268 views

mirror house gedanken experiment

Imagine a mirror house i.e. completely made of mirror with no traces of whatsoever light absorbent. Now, you introduce a light beam into that room and observe somehow through a hole. Would the room ...
2
votes
2answers
88 views

Basic geometric optics question - how come we don't have to have exact focus to capture objects clearly?

The top frame of the image below shows an image formed on the screen (at right) of an object (pencil on the left) located at some distance $D$ from the lens. The lens focuses all the light rays ...
2
votes
2answers
143 views

How to determine if a optical system is afocal?

I have to come up with a method to measure the focal length of a concave lens that's not in my lab guidebook. So I decide that I will build an afocal system with a convex lens and a concave lens and ...
2
votes
1answer
158 views

Refraction of light in water

Here's a question in a paper based on refraction of light. I can't seem to solve it for some reason. A man looks down at a fish length of 20 cm. His eye is 2m above the surface of the water ...
2
votes
2answers
75 views

Are images of three-dimensional objects also three-dimensional?

Suppose that I produce an image of a dog using a converging lens. I can draw ray diagrams for the nose of the dog as well as the back leg. These are definitely longitudinal points, not transverse. ...
2
votes
3answers
4k 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
315 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
2answers
472 views

Why do powers of lenses get added?

In our physics class, we were told that a power of a lens is defined as the reciprocal of its focal length. Also, the powers of multiple lenses get added up. But I didn't understand why this is. I ...
2
votes
1answer
319 views

Plenoptic camera and display

This is a two part question about the technology described here: Lytro's light field camera lets you choose focus later I'd love to get an explanation of the technology. What is the ...