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 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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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 ...
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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 ...
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Optically thick media

What does "optically thick media" mean? Does this property depend on the length of an enclosure? Why is the diffusion approximation for the radiative transfer equation applied to optically thick ...
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What is the difference between the words transparent and translucent?

Merriam Webster defines transparent as: Having the property of transmitting light without appreciable scattering so that bodies lying beyond are seen clearly. And translucent as: ...
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Why don't fogbows appear on clouds?

As far as I know clouds are lot of small droplets condensed in air. If droplets are large enough we see a rainbow. If they are small we see a fogbow. Although the size of the droplets are big enough ...
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Difference in perception of unpolarized and polarized light

What is the difference in perception of polarized light and unpolarized light? What difference does polarized light cause to our eyes?
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How fast does light travel through a fibre optic cable?

The principle behind a fibre optic cable is that light is reflected along the cable until it reaches the other side, like in this diagram: Although I know that the light is slowed down somewhat ...
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What is the meaning of “CW” in LASER?

I am reading a user's manual, and the word appears here. At first, I think "CW" means "center wave". But later, I find that the meaning of "CW" is "continuous wave". It makes me confused. ...
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172 views

Fourier transform of two pulses of light

I have laser beam path that fires two pulses of light in a gaussian distribution, so the intensity graph over time is two identical gaussians separated by a distance $t_0$. In other words, a gaussian ...
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119 views

Polarization of Light

How do materials polarize light? I know that they polarize light in the same plane, but light has two perpendicular directions with the two fields, so which direction is reflected and why? And if ...
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547 views

Why can't I see far when I look in a mirror?

I'm myopic. It's a fact. I understand exactly how it works because Internet told me light rays encounter themeselves too soon in my eyes... that is why I can't see far objects even if I see near ...
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Shape of the rainbow

I have watched Walter Lewin's lecture(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QVbE_tU2sA) which was about the rainbows. But there is still a question bothering me. I understood the first part of the ...
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Diffraction through one slit?

When Thomas Young first conducted his double slit experiment to prove the wave nature of light, he shone light through two slits, creating an interference pattern. Apparently he then covered up one ...
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What's the name for taking pictures of air flow in a normal room?

There is a way to photograph air in a room. It makes convection, breathing and movement visible. The result looks a bit like a soap bubble. This is some kind of optical effect. No special gases or ...
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396 views

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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Counterpropagating beams in a ring cavity lasers

Ring cavity lasers usually has a intracavity element like a optical diode to forbid standing wave pattern and, consequently, spacial hole burning and related instabilities. So, my question is: why to ...
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Human eyes vs aberrations

There are no perfect lenses in nature. Aberrations of some kind will always be there. But why healthy human eyes circumvent this issue? Or, are there any aberrations we don't "see?"
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intensifying a light source

When trying to intensify a beam of light by refracting it through a lens, (as in a lighthouse fresnel system or similar railroad style switch lamp from years past), is the beam intensity increased by ...
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Is this a photograph of an electron-positron annihilation? [closed]

With degrees in Mechanical and Electrical engineering but no advanced education in physics, I submit a query based on ellipsometric macro photography of TEMS supplied by FDA/NIH. In one TEM a ...
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Is a Perfect/Lossless Mirror possible?

In traditional mirrors, some of the input light is absorbed by atoms in the mirrors surface and are 'lost' as heat, degrading the quality of the reflected image. Could this loss be compensated by an ...
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Why does a CD work as a diffraction grating even with light from a light bulb?

I have a really hard time solving the following problem I accidentally came across today. Looking at the back of a usual CD one sees coloured bands. This is explained by the fact that the surface ...
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Light entering in a 0° angle, is there any reflection?

Is there any reflection of light that enters a new medium at a 0° angle, if the electric field is such, that it is completely in the plane of the double layer?
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Optics, lenses and our eyes

When we view an image, is the focal point of our eye on our retina? Shouldn't that hurt? Also, if that is how our eye works, then why don't lenses put the focal point their equivalent retina? I was ...
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Optical Drive Physics

I have been recently wondering how is data stored on and retrieved from optical devices like CDs, DVDs, and Bluray. What makes these different storage types different from each other?
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Why do we stop using optics for photons above a certain energy?

I'm reading about how the soon-to-be-launched NuSTAR is on the cutting edge of focusing x-rays, which captures 5 to 80 keV radiation by focusing them with optics that have a 10.15 meter focal length ...
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461 views

Polarization rotation: Jones Matrix that maps Horizontal to right circular

I am looking at the Poincaré sphere and I am trying to compute a Jones matrix for a particular rotation. Specifically, I would like it to perform the following maps: $O :|H \rangle \rightarrow |R ...
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Focusing laser & off-axis illumination & diffraction limit

I've thought I had a good understanding how resolution enhancement tricks works for projection lithography, until I tried to understand if it's possible to get sub-diffraction performance for focused ...
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157 views

Reflected optical rotation of polarised light

Assume polarised light travels through an optically active medium (e.g. water with lots of sugar) with the specific angle $\alpha_s$ of depth $d$ at which end it is reflected (so in total it travels ...
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Compound lenses and virtual images

Ok so I have this problem where I have a system of two lenses. All I know is that the distance between the object and the first lens is 30cm, the distance between the object and the final image is ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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Sign convention for mirror and lens formulas

I have just started learning optics at school and my teacher derived the lens and mirror formulas. While doing so, she applied the sign convention for u,v and f and arrived at the final expression. ...
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Does optical fiber preserve the angles of incoming light?

I am reading up on optical fibers and there's one thing I haven't understood yet: Does an optical fiber preserve the angles of incoming light? For example, if we light two LEDs in front of an ...
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150 views

How does light pass through rough glass?

Light incident on a rough surface will be diffuse after passing it. Angular intensity depends on the grinding of the glass surface. I'm trying to find information about the scattering indicatrix of ...
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361 views

Beam splitters and Mach-Zender interferometers

I have a question (my very first here) related to 50/50 beam splitters as used in the Mach-Zehnder interferometers (see for example http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mach-Zehnder_interferometer). Let's ...
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169 views

Mirror image at relativistic speeds

Imagine moving parallel to the surface of a very large flat mirror at relativistic speeds. What would be the effect of viewing yourself in the mirror? At non-relativistic speeds your image would be ...
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Non reciprocal light propagation

In search for some explanation in why magneto-optical materials (like the one used in the Faraday rotator and, consequently, in the "optical diode") act in such a "strange" way, I saw that this kind ...
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Physical explanation for why total internal reflection occurs

I have been trying to understand total internal reflection (and have read several posts on this site already). Mathematically, I feel that I understand how the evanescent wave decays exponentially as ...
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Question about Rayleigh scattering

To quote from Wikipedia on elastic scattering, "In this scattering process, the energy (and therefore the wavelength) of the incident photon is conserved and only its direction is changed." How does ...
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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). ...
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refractive index of air in dependence of temperature

What is the exact dependence of the refractive index of air and the temperature? Is there a theoretical derivation of it?
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In interferometry, what is the origin of the name “Airy function”?

In interferometry (specifically, in the domain of Fabry-Perot cavities), the function $$f(\phi) = \frac{1}{1 + F \sin^2 \phi}$$ , which describes the shape of the resonant structure of the cavity, is ...
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What is the difference between surface plasmon and surface plasmon polariton?

I'm trying to understand this reading article linked below and I still don't know how to explain this simply, without need to derive everything mathematically. Can someone just write here how do SP's ...
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Will overlapping two different beams of coherent light cause interference?

I have two laser beams with same polarization running parallel to each other. Will they interfere? If yes, then what are the conditions (perpendicular distance etc) and how can I observe the ...
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Inverse Fourier Transform Of K-space Image…what is the object space scale?

Checked around a buch and could not find any help. But I needed help with: Understanding that if I get the Inverse FT of K-space data, what is the scaling on the X-space (object space) resultant ...
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282 views

Young's double slit experiment viva question

My professor asked me (in my viva exam), "If, in the Fraunhofer single slit diffraction experiment, if we have 2 slits instead of one (at very short distances), What would happen?" I answered with ...
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How can some optical microscopes measure height differences of different sample planes with nanometer accuracy?

I could use last week an optical microscope, didn't seem special in any way, 50x magnification, image viewable per a CCD camera on a computer screen besides through the ocular. But the software of ...
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215 views

Filter out polarized light

Unpolarized light enters the polarizer and gets polarized at one certain angle. If we place an analyzer behind the polarizer and align them, we observe that all light is transmitted. If we rotate the ...
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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 ...