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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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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Why would an object appear a different size when in water?

A friend of mine has a homework question and we're having some trouble figuring out what physical mechanisms come into play for this. An underwater swimmer sees a spherical air bubble that appears ...
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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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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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If I reflect light from a projector using a mirror, then is the reflected image real or virtual?

I am in a great confusion about this question. In our school, we have been taught that: A real image is an image which can be obtained on a screen. It is always inverted. A virtual image is ...
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216 views

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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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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269 views

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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224 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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143 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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675 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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798 views

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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691 views

Numerical software to manipulate a light beam in its plane wave representation?

Any light field can be expressed as a sum of plane waves. Such an ensemble of plane waves is called the plane wave spectrum of the light field. The plane wave spectrum is the Fourier transform 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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155 views

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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On unfocused images, their information content and possible restoration

So, when an image is out of focus the light of any given point of the object does not refocus exactly at one point on the screen, but is spread out around a region, such that the light of the image at ...
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275 views

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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46 views

Is the IoR of water exactly $4/3$?

The index of refraction of water is commonly cited as $n \approx 1.33$, to varying numbers of decimal places. I've never seen a decimal expansion for this value with any digit other than $3$ past the ...
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76 views

Why does sea colour differ from place to place?

If you notice the colour of sea changes from place to place. At some places it is of blue or green and even different in beach. What must be the reason?
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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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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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810 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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383 views

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 it possible to implement the reversed dispersion of a white light beam and how?

The dispersion of white light beam while passing through a triangular prism is well known. Considering the reversibility of optical path, it should be possible to reverse the experiment. How can ...
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Has anyone developed tunable notch filters in the visible RGB wavelengths which have very fast response times?

I am interested in whether the combination of a spectrometer and a tunable notch filter with notch frequencies at the visible red, green and blue wavelengths which have very fast response times could ...
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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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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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163 views

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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142 views

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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564 views

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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328 views

Fermat principle: which index of refraction?

I am somewhat puzzled by a common formulation of the Fermat principle (light travel time), because it contains index of refraction related to phase velocity while light travel time through a slab of ...
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558 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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581 views

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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172 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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537 views

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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How to determine divergence of a LED source from a single biconvex lens

I'm trying to determine the divergence angle of light from a single lens that is completely illuminated by a high power LED. Most optics textbooks only deal with imaging optics and I'm having a hard ...
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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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why does the optical media have different refractive indices?

Optical density is a measure of the refracting power of a medium. In other words, the higher the optical density, the more the light will be refracted or slowed down as it moves through the medium. ...
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How is the theory of partial coherent light related to quantum-mechanics?

Background Let me start this question by a long introduction, because I assume that only few readers will be familiar with the theory of partial coherent light and concepts like a mutual coherence ...
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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 ...
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687 views

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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185 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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221 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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142 views

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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633 views

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 ...