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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Why do object appear smaller when it is further away?

This might have nothing to do with physics but why does the size of an object change when it is further away from me compared to when it is closer to me? Can someone perhaps explain this through an ...
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923 views

What temperature is achieved in focus point by 5000 flat 1x1cm mirrors onto a satellite dish?

There is this video ("R5800 Solar Death Ray") where teenager built a 5000 mirror device which concetrates the solar rays which is showing the potency of the mosaic method of concentrating sunlight ...
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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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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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Lasing in a 2-Level system?

What exactly is the difference between 2-Level, 3-Level and 4-Level systems? Why can we not achieve stimulated emission in a two-level system using optical pumping?
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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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Why is the atmosphere transparent in the visible spectrum?

One of the great 'coincidences' in physics is that the Sun happens to shine most brightly at exactly the wavelengths our eyes can see; it's an easy explanation that our eyes evolved to make the most ...
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3answers
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What makes a rainbow happen?

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 causes it ...
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2answers
671 views

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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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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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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Do gravitational lenses have a focus point?

Do gravitational lenses have a focus point? Could I burn space ants?
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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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Why aren't all objects transparent?

I know that for an object to be transparent, visible light must go through it undisturbed. In other words, if the light energy is sufficiently high to excite one of the electrons in the material, ...
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2answers
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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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3answers
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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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Interference of polarized light

Does polarized light interfere?
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5answers
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Eyes open under water

Yesterday I looked underwater with my eyes open (and no goggles) and I realized I can't see anything clearly. Everything looks very, very blurry. My guess is that the eye needs direct contact with air ...
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3answers
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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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2answers
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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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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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2answers
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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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5answers
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Sign convention in optics

Why is the sign convention used in the derivation of the lens formula and yet used again when it is applied in numerical problems? Won't the whole idea of sign convention be eliminated if it is used ...
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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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What makes some laser beams visible and other laser beams invisible?

What makes the beam of some lasers: visible? such as the ones used in clubs or such as the laser pointers sold at amazon which if pointed to the sky look like a solid visible beam of light ...
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1answer
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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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1answer
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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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Diffraction Pattern on LCD Screen

I was up late working with my red LED headlamp on and when I was looking at the black part of my LCD (Apple Retina Macbook Pro) screen I noticed this interesting diffraction pattern. I'm confused ...
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1answer
808 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 p-...
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formula for transparency of very thin film of metal

Is there formula that gives transparency of very thin film of given metal (tens of nanometers) to the visible light/light of given wavelength ? Which properties of metals are needed for the formula ? ...
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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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3answers
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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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Can you explain Fermat's Principle to me?

The textbook(F.A.Jenkins and H.E.White Fundamentals of Optics) states that the Fermat's principle is that the path taken by a light ray in going from one point to another through any set of media ...
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3answers
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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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What is the physical interpretation of Power Spectral Density (PSD) in optical tweezer?

For the calibration of an optical tweezer, the PSD of position values are plotted. If it follows a certain behavior having two regions - free diffusion and potential limited regions, then the trap is ...
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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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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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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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1answer
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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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5answers
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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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4answers
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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 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) ...
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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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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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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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1answer
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How does a holographic object change perspective when the image is rotated?

Fundamentally i want to know: How do holograms work? The problem with that question is that normally you will end up with pages and pages talking about: a laser a beam splitter a diffuser the ...
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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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1answer
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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 ...
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What does Lijun Wang's experiment about supraluminal speed of light in a medium mean?

This is a summary from Physics World of the paper: L J Wang et al. 2000 Nature 406 277-- "Wang and colleagues begin by using a third continuous-wave laser to confirm that there are two peaks in the ...