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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Educational applications of a small Michelson interferometer?

The community college where I teach has some nice old Michelson interferometers. There appear to be a bunch of versions of these that used to be sold (may still be sold?) which were all probably ...
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959 views

How to turn water opaque by pouring the smallest quantity of matter into it? [closed]

Consider a glass of water and a glass of coffee. Their contents differ by no more than a few grams of particles coming from the roasted and ground coffee, yet the former lets almost all visible light ...
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97 views

How can results from classical optics be obtained from QFT?

Recently it came to my mind, that I have some basic knowledge about QFT and know im principle how to calculate scattering amplitudes (at least for the $\phi^4$-theory), but have no idea how to ...
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139 views

Is it possible to see light intensity fluctuate?

Solutions to Maxwell's equations shows that the $\vec{E}$ and $\vec{H}$ component are of the same phase, which means they go to maximum and zero together, therefore the intensity of the ...
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111 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 ...
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332 views

Liouville's theorem and gravitationally deflected lightpaths

It is customary in gravitational lensing problems, to project both the background source and the deflecting mass (e.g. a background quasar, and a foreground galaxy acting as a lens) in a plane. Then, ...
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664 views

Does a perfect mirror behave the same as a blackbody radiator?

If I put a perfect mirror(i.e. reflects with no attenuation) next to a blackbody radiator its spectra should be the same as the blackbody radiator. Looking only at the spectra - is there any ...
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199 views

Suntan: UV absorption vs daytime

I guess that these questions were being asked by many people on the Northern Hemisphere during this summer (and other summers) and someone may give a nice, coherent answer. The general question is how ...
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909 views

reflection at intersection of 2 mirrors

Consider 2 mirrors which intersect at an angle. If we draw a light ray intersecting the mirrors at their point of intersection, how will it reflect? What will be the normal at that point?
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What makes some laser beams visible and other laser beams invisible?

What makes the beam of some lasers: 1-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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How can I determine transmission/reflection coefficients for light?

When light rays reflect off a boundary between two materials with different indices of refraction, a lot of the sources I've seen (recently) don't discuss the relation between the amplitude (or ...
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568 views

Homemade Spectrometer

Recently I have had ideas of how to build a spectroscope, but I'm not sure if it will work. As can be seen in the diagram, the experiment is simple: it consists of a laser that generates the light ...
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384 views

Why does burning things make them black?

It's not clear to me how burning process can transform a material which was previously capable both of absorbing and emitting photon to one which can only absorb them. I would like to hear an educated ...
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73 views

How much detail can telescopes actually provide?

For example, could the numbers / letters on a postage stamp in a randomly specified location be clearly visible from space. This is to settle a discussion with a friend that piqued my curiosity.
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416 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 ...
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501 views

Are coherent states of light 'classical' or 'quantum'?

Coherent states of light, defined as $$|\alpha\rangle=e^{-\frac{|\alpha|^2}{2}}\sum_{n=0}^\infty \frac{\alpha^n}{n!}|n\rangle$$ for a given complex number $\alpha$ and where $|n\rangle$ is a Fock ...
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429 views

Where does the energy go, when light is blocked by polarisation

I've been looking around about LCD monitors, and how they polarise light. When a pixel needs to be black, the light is "twisted" so that it can't go through the polarising sheet in front. What happens ...
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How does the Kinect device work?

Some explanations of the device base it on a simple echo of light: "The camera transmits invisible near-infrared light and measures its “time of flight” after it reflects off the objects. ...
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353 views

Why must an integrating sphere be a sphere?

Why must an integrating sphere be a sphere? Why can't it be an integrating cube? What is the difference? Could I use a cube to measure total illuminance like an integrating sphere does?
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How big would a solar sail need to be to be detected from the orbit of Pluto?

Suppose we made a solar sail out of a highly reflective material. How big would that solar sail have to be for the Hubble Space Telescope to detect it visually at the average distance of Pluto?
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5k views

Why does the refractive index depend on wavelength? [duplicate]

Why do different wavelength get impeded more or less when in different materials? Moving with the same speed, but a longer physical distance would imply that the fields oscillate less times in the ...
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100 views

How would you figure some of the methods (in order of importance) to take a picture of the supersonic bullet with the wave it produce in 1888?

It would still be almost impossible for me in 21th century to take this picture: (image courtesy of wikipedia) How would you figure some of the methods (in order of importance) to take a picture ...
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340 views

Can a photon exhibit multiple frequencies?

Can a photon be a superposition of multiple frequency states? Kind of similar to how an electron can be a superposition of multiple spin states.
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What are the differences in using an eyepiece with a barlow instead of a shorter eyepiece?

I intend to start making visual observations, and I want to know more about the difference between using barlow lenses and one or two eyepieces and using a complete kit of eyepieces, both for ...
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300 views

What makes a good set of binoculars? [closed]

After trying a bunch of binoculars at Star Parties and the like, I have a pretty good feel for about what aperture and magnification I'd like in a new set binoculars. I'm an eyeglass wearer so a long ...
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757 views

Recently publicized experiment on destructive interference between two laser beams

Recently I've had several non-physicist friends ask me, independently of each other, about an experiment where two collinear laser beams destructively interfere along a certain length. Everybody wants ...
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773 views

How can we describe the polarization (of light) coming from an arbitrary angle?

In an optics lab, where all optical beams pretty much reside in a plane, it is fairly simple to describe (linear) polarizations as vertical or horizontal (or s and p). When we start talking about ...
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Explain reflection laws at the atomic level

The "equal angles" law of refection on a flat mirror is a macroscopic phenomenon. To put it in anthropomorphic terms, how do individual photons know the orientation of the mirror so as to bounce off ...
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Nonlinear polarization (second and third order)

Why does second order nonlinear polarization occur only in crystal materials with a non-centrosymmetric crystal structure? (Nonlinear effects at crystal surfaces are an exception). Why does third ...
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563 views

Far-field intensity from scattering of small particles

Howdy, I'm building a simulation for looking at the light field underwater. In order to verify my simulation, I'm looking for some data showing the far-field intensity that comes from single ...
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6k views

Optical microscope magnification limits?

Optical microscopes are quoted as having a maximum magnification of 1500x to 2000x - what is this calculated from?
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181 views

References for Radio Imaging?

I'm really intrigued by a bunch of questions like 'what do radio waves look like?' 'how much RF radiation is there in the town I live in?' 'how specifically does RF imaging work?' But I think I need ...
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4answers
3k views

What happens to light in a perfect reflective sphere?

Let's say you have the ability to shine some light into a perfectly round sphere and the sphere's interior surface was perfectly smooth and reflective and there was no way for the light to escape. If ...
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76 views

Collinearity of two infrared (10.6um) beams

I'm interested in aligning two infrared (10.6um) beams so that they are as collinear as possible. What is the best way to do this while maintaining the polarization of the two beams? Is there a ...
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768 views

Why does a glass window reflect white objects white from an atomic scatterers’ viewpoint?

Related: Is a white object always white? If you are standing in front of a glass window during the day, you can see your dim white t-shirt’s reflection in the window. The reflection is dim because ...
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862 views

High school double lens optics question

This is a first year high school homework question (in the Finnish high school), and I'm having serious trouble solving it. I apologize for possible non-standard terms: I'm doing the translation from ...
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Focusing light into an optical fiber cable

I'm trying to focus light from a flashing light lamp throught two lens into a optical fiber cable which is around 0.8cm in diameter. flashing light: a bulb and then covered by a glass of 7.5cm x 7cm ...
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1answer
797 views

Wavefront RMS errors, mirror surface roughness and Gaussian beam scattering

What I'm interested is in the scattered power of Gaussian beams reflected from mirrors with a given surface RMS. Usually the surface RMS $\sigma_{s}$ of a mirror translates in an error for the ...
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308 views

polarization of the lower mode gaussian beam

In most introductory analysis of Gaussian beam optics, Helmoltz scalar optics is assumed. Hence polarisation is ignored. But I'm not clear what are the possible orientations for the lower transverse ...
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How do head mounted displays simulate infinite focus?

First, when I say infinite focus, I am using the term from photography, perhaps incorrectly. Secondly, I believe am not talking about convergence, but about focus. If I am not mistaken, with ...
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623 views

Optimal Angular Field of View (AFOV)

Given the rather huge price differences between eye pieces at the same focal length. How exactly does the AFOV affect the view seen through the eyepiece? Are higher / lower AFOV better for certain ...
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372 views

Is apparent horizon curvature lesser due to refraction of light in the atmosphere?

I have encountered this claim while searching for sources answering " Can we see the curvature of earth from the top of world's tallest building? ". Wikipedia article on horizon claims (with no ...
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1answer
181 views

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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2answers
5k views

How does the grid on the microwave oven window prevent microwave radiation from coming out?

If I look through the microwave window I can see through, which means visible radiation can get out. We know also that there is a mesh on the microwave window which prevents microwave from coming out. ...
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1answer
367 views

Are two polarization states of light coherent?

Let's consider a situation: we have distant point source of unpolarized light in certain non-zero range of wavelengths (it's polychromatic). Let's divide this light into 2 beams depending on ...
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1answer
654 views

What does the Rayleigh Phase Function tell us

I am working on some radiative transfer equations, and struggling as I'm fairly new to this field. I have read about the Rayleigh Phase Function which is: $P(\theta) = \frac{3}{4}(1 + cos^2 \theta)$ ...
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280 views

Concerning Scattering Intensity and Particle Concentration

I am trying to determine what governs my sensor output. I have an optical sensor that emits infrared radiation on a sample volume and gives me a voltage output from the scattering of (1 to 10 micron) ...
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2answers
328 views

How can I estimate the elasto-optic coefficients ($p_{11}$ and $p_{12}$) of a material?

I am attempting to estimate the elasto-optic coefficients ($p_{11}$ and $p_{12}$) of $\mathrm{TiO}_2$ and $\mathrm{ZrO}_2$, where $p_{11}$ and $p_{12}$ refer to the elements of a strain-optic tensor ...
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493 views

Boundary Conditions Invariant Under Conformal Transformations in Electrostatics?

in two dimensional electrostatics it is assumed that the whole physical system is translationally invariant in one direction. Here, the two-dimensional Laplace equation $$\Delta \phi(x,y) = ...
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129 views

At Interfaces Does Light Have to Accelerate?

First, I'm not sure if photons have to "get up to" the speed of light, or if they are thrown into existence at that speed. I know that they should just be generated moving at their speed, and I know ...