Optics is the study of light, and its interaction with matter. It includes topics such as imaging systems, fiber optics, lasers, quantum optics, and more.

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Observing lunar lander and footprints on the moon?

After Apollo 11 first landed on the Moon in 1969, there have been conspiracy theories that this never really happened and that it was all a hoax. In 2010 NASA released photos from its Lunar ...
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Two mirrors facing each other

What happens when you place two mirrors facing each other? Is it possible to have an infinite amount of reflections?
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How to bend light?

As we all know that light travels in rectilinear motion. But can we bend light in parabolic path? If not practically then is it possible in paper? Has anyone succeeded in doing that practically ?
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Three polarizers, 45° apart

If light is passed through two polarizing filters before arriving at a target, and both of the filters are oriented at 90° to each other, then no light will be received at the target. If a third ...
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What causes atoms to have their specific colors?

I understand that light (color) is part of the electromagnetic spectrum, and that it depends on what wavelengths are reflected/absorbed. Though what property of an individual atom gives it its color? ...
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Maximum theoretical bandwidth of fibre-optics

Ignoring hardware at either end and their technological limitations, what is the maximum theoretical bandwidth of fibre optic cables currently in use / being deployed in a FTTH type situations? I ...
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Is manufacturing roughness really the only reason we don't see optical interference in thick dielectrics like windows?

I had always kind of wondered why we didn't see interference in things like windows -- we were taught that the condition is that the thickness of the film/slab/medium just has to be an integral number ...
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How do you calculate power at the focal point of a mirror?

I'm a Mechanical Engineering student and I'm working on my senior project, so I need help. My project is about designing a solar dish having a diameter of 1.5 meters and a focal length of 60cm. so at ...
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What really makes a rainbow happen?

Yes, a rainbow is formed when a raindrop refracts light, but why then does the whole sky not become a huge rainbow when it rains? Would the light not be dispersed into ordinary 'white' light? What ...
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Why the light bent towards the normal when they pass from rarer medium to denser medium?

Whenever the light rays are entering the rarer to denser medium they bend toward the normal. Then why the rays choose the path toward the normal? Why it cannot choose the path away form the normal?
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Observer looking out through the window of a train [duplicate]

When travelling by a train, it seems that the nearby objects move in the opposite direction(which I can explain) but the distant objects appear stationary. I can't explain this. By the concept of ...
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How do we see? Where do the photons disappear?

I know that the light is reflected from a object to my eyes, but I don't understand exactly how. The photons appear from the light source and disappear in my eye! Can someone explain the phenomenon of ...
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How does a photon travel through glass?

This was discussed in an answer to a related question but I think that it deserves a separate and, hopefully, more clear answer. Consider a single photon ($\lambda$=532 nm) traveling through a plate ...
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Photon energy - momentum in matter

$E = h\nu$ and $P = h\nu/c$ in vacuum. If a photon enters water, it's frequency $\nu$ doesn't change. What are its energy and momentum : $h\nu$ ? and $h\nu/c$ ? Since part of it's energy and momentum ...
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Why is the sun brighter in Australia compared to parts of Asia?

Background: I've lived in Philippines for several years, and visited other parts of Asia occasionally (Singapore, Indonesia, Hongkong). I just moved to Western Australia a few months ago and I ...
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How Does $\epsilon$ Relate to the Dampened Harmonic Motion of Electrons?

I realize that the permittivity $\epsilon$ of a substance is easily calculated based on diffraction angles, but I am not satisfied with merely measuring it experimentally. I wish to understand its ...
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How come an anti-reflective coating makes glass *more* transparent?

The book I'm reading about optics says that an anti-reflective film applied on glass* makes the glass more transparent, because the air→film and film→glass reflected waves (originated from a paraxial ...
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How does Fraunhofer diffraction depend on the orientation of the sides of a lens?

Matt in his answer on What does a hexagonal sun tell us about the camera lens/sensor? mentions Incidentally the number of (distinct) points to the star is equal to double the total number of ...
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Make a semi transparent mirror with copper

The question: How would you make a semi transparent mirror (50% reflection, 50% transmission) with glass with a layer of copper. For light $\lambda$ = 500nm Try to be as realistic as possible What ...
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Why can you have shiny black objects?

Knowing black is supposed to be the "color" (I don't want to get into the color/hue/shade debate, please) that absorbs light. how does one manage to have shiny black surfaces? I know about "gloss ...
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What are these rays that appear in photograph of sun?

In many images of light emitting objects we see such rays. Why do they appear ? What is the math behind their number and direction?
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What causes multiple colored patches on a wet road?

I was going to school (after a rainy hour) when I saw some patches of shiny colours lying on road. Some small children surrounded that area and thought that it's a rainbow falling on the Earth. (For ...
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How does light know which path is fastest?

We know from Fermat's principle of least time that light follows the fastest path. But how does light know which path is the fastest?
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Wavelength-dependent refractive index

I read in a book about optical fibers that the different spectral components of a light pulse transmitted in the fiber propagate with different velocities due to a wavelength dependent refractive ...
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3d holograms - How are they created?

How do 3d holograms work exactly? I read that there is a laser in use, but how are the multiple perspectives generated and how is the light trapped? in a certain area to create the effect? ...
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The Optics of the Vortex (in Water): why there is a bright ring also in reversed flow?

This question is closely related to this one; The optics of vortex (in water): why there is a bright ring? In this case "physics girl" gives somehow an plausible explanation, and it's only debatable ...
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1answer
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Why do we observe opposite motion of trees (nearer) and trees (distant) when seen from a moving frame? [duplicate]

If you are in a moving train or in a bus, what you observe is that the trees which are nearer to you move opposite to the direction of your motion. But the trees which are very far away from you, ...
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Reflectivity of a glowing-hot metal surface

When a polished piece of metal (or steel in particular) is heated to incandescence, how do its reflective properties change? Given a mirror-like surface, would the object temporarily cease to act ...
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Does diffraction occur before interference?

In the double slit experiment, light passes through two slits and the waves interfere and form an interference pattern. A single slit is required for diffraction. So, I was thinking about whether ...
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1answer
580 views

Diffracton at the edges of an opaque object?

To understand the phenomenon of diffraction as an interference effects of several dipole oscillators (like in case of several symmetrical, not sawtooth, scratches in a diffraction grating), we ...
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During reflection does the emitted photon have same properties?

When light (photon) is reflected the the original photon is absorbed by an electron and then emitted again. Does this "new" photon have the same wavelength, frequency etc. as the original?
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Principle of Reflection on atomic level

The well observed phenomenon has besides several others has always been a fascination to me, we are well aware of several theories, experiments and practical applications of the well known phenomenon. ...
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1answer
615 views

electric field of unpolarized light after reflect?

Reflection and transmission (Fresnel equation) of polarized light are treated in many optics or electromagnetism books. If $E_s$ and $E_p$ is incident electric field with s-polarization and ...
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443 views

What is the sun's spectral series?

My physics book says that six colors can be distinctly seen in white light: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. Does solar light only use these six wavelengths and mix them additively, or ...
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Difference in velocity of light in change in medium [duplicate]

It is often seen that according to physics the light changes it's velocity according to the medium through which it is traveling. So can it be explained that why so happen?
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Heat production of magnifying glass

Why Magnifying glass(convex lens) produces heat when placed in front of sun?
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1answer
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Calculate the distance between two points from iPhone Camera

I want to calculate the distance between two objects using an iPhone camera. Suppose I'm standing with my iPhone 10 feet away from the objects. Now, I want to calculate the distance between those ...
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1answer
123 views

Size of object from its image [duplicate]

If the quality of the camera (i.e. the megapixels) (assume to be $x$) of the camera is known and an object is kept a known distance from the camera (assume to be $d$), can the actual width and length ...
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1answer
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Time duration for pulse of single electron viewed as a wave

Electron as an example has a de Broglie wavelength and could diffract. If it has a single wavelength the time extent of the particle's pulse duration would be infinite .. If it carries a broadband ...
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Could Legolas actually see that far?

The video “How Far Can Legolas See?” by MinutePhysics recently went viral. The video states that although Legolas would in principle be able to count $105$ horsemen $24\text{ km}$ away, he shouldn't ...
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What causes insects to cast large shadows from where their feet are?

I recently stumbled upon this interesting image of a wasp, floating on water: Assuming this isn't photoshopped, I have a couple of questions: Why do you see its image like that (what's the ...
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1answer
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Formulation of Transformation optics using a Material Manifold

Dear Community, recently, Transformation optics celebrates some sort of scientific revival due to its (possible) applications for cloaking, see e.g. Broadband Invisibility by Non-Euclidean Cloaking ...
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Why is water clear?

Water appears transparent to visible light, yet most other objects are opaque. Why is that? Is there an explanation why water appears transparent? Is water transparent at all wavelengths, or are ...
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Why do nearsighted people see better with their glasses *rotated*?

If you are nearsighted (like me), you may have noticed that if you tilt your glasses, you can see distant objects more clear than with normally-positioned glasses. If you already see completely clear, ...
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Can light emit light?

How and why does the Huygens principle really work? I mean, does it always work? The Huygens principle: Every point on a wave-front may be considered a source of secondary spherical wavelets ...
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Difference Between Fraunhofer and Fresnel Diffraction

What is the difference between Fraunhofer diffraction and Fresnel diffraction? I mean diffraction is just bending of light waves or waves in general around a point. So how can there be two types of ...
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Why is Huygens' principle only valid in an odd number of spatial dimensions?

Apparently Huygens' principle is only valid in an odd number of spatial dimensions: http://mathoverflow.net/a/5396/21349 Huygen's principle in curved spacetimes Why is this? [EDIT] This is ...
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Are Fresnel lenses widely used for solar electricity? If not, why not?

I was just wondering why Fresnel Lenses are not widely used in the production of solar electricity. Their use there would mean that you could produce heat within a fraction of a second, up to a few ...
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Why aren't there compression waves in electromagnetic fields?

I just started learning about optics, and in the book I'm reading they explain how the electrical field caused by a single charged particle could be described by a series of field lines, and compare ...
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Detailed form of light waves in vacuum and how to test it experimentally?

Consider a light wave in vacuum. Do the $\vec{B}$ and $\vec{E}$ fields have to be orthogonal to each other? Since you can add constants to a solution to Maxwell's equation it doesn't seem neccesary ...