Optics is the study of the properties and behavior of light. In this section you can learn about everything from holograms to lasers and lenses.


Illusion, an impression of a real stimulus, received through one of the senses, which does not agree with other sense impressions or with objective tests.

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  • How 3-D Glasses Work

    How 3-D Glasses Work

    NASA's Mars rovers are sending 3-D images to Earth, so we can see depth and texture on the Martian surface. And how do we see this depth and texture? 3-D glasses, of course! Check out how they work. See more »

  • How can a telescope see through time?

    How can a telescope see through time?

    Light travels pretty rapidly, but when it comes to faraway galaxies, that light takes a while to reach our telescopes. In fact, the light you see might actually be from billions of years ago. See more »

  • How Holograms Work

    How Holograms Work

    If you want to see a hologram, you don't have to look much farther than your wallet. But the most impressive holograms are large scale and illuminated with lasers or displayed in a darkened room with carefully directed lighting. Learn how a hologram, light and your brain work together make clear, 3-D images. See more »

  • How Impossible Colors Work

    How Impossible Colors Work

    What if there are colors within the visible spectrum that our brains can't perceive? In fact, there are. They're called impossible colors. But some researchers think they've discovered a way to see the impossible. See more »

  • How Invisibility Cloaks Work

    How Invisibility Cloaks Work

    An invisibility cloak seems perfectly believable in the magical world of Harry Potter, but in the real world, it's impossible, right? Not so fast. See more »

  • How Kaleidoscopes Work

    How Kaleidoscopes Work

    Kaleidoscopes have been fascinating people since the early 19th century. Whether you think of kaleidoscopes as toys or as works of art, no matter how often you look inside, you'll never see the same thing twice. See more »

  • How Laser Analysis Works

    How Laser Analysis Works

    A venerable work of art hangs lifeless in a museum, the once brilliant scene dulled by centuries of dirt and grime. Can laser analysis and modern art restoration techniques save the masterpiece? See more »

  • How Laser Communication Works

    How Laser Communication Works

    When speed is everything and light marks the universe's speed limit, lasers are bound to be the answer. At least, that's what NASA and a bunch of Wall Street types are betting on. See more »

  • How Lasers Work

    How Lasers Work

    Lasers are used in CD players, dental drills, eye surgery, and even tattoo removal. But what exactly is a laser? There are numerous types, but all lasers work basically the same way. Learn how they generate such concentrated beams of light. See more »

  • How Light Microscopes Work

    How Light Microscopes Work

    The human eye misses a lot -- enter the incredible world of the microscopic! Explore how a light microscope works. See more »

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