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.


Luminescence, the emission of light from causes other than high temperature. (The emission of light due to heat is called incandescence.) Luminescence may occur in a solid, liquid, or gas.

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  • Why does a mirror exchange left and right but not up and down?

    Why does a mirror exchange left and right but not up and down?

    Imagine wearing a T-shirt with lettering on it while brushing your teeth. Why are the letters on the T-shirt reversed in the mirror, while your head appears right side up? See more »

  • Aberration


    Aberration, in optics, a condition that causes blurring, loss of clearness, or distortion of shape in the images formed by lenses or curved mirrors. See more »

  • Angstrom


    Angstrom, an extremely small unit of length that is used primarily in expressing the wavelengths of visible light. See more »

  • Binoculars


    Binoculars, optical instruments consisting of two small telescopes mounted side by side, one for each eye, and a focusing mechanism. See more »

  • Black


    Black, the lack of color. When light strikes an object, all light waves are absorbed except those of the color of the object. See more »

  • Blue


    Blue, one of the primary colors. Minerals such as turquoise, azurite, labradorite, and lapis lazuli are blue. See more »

  • Brown


    Brown, a color. It is a mixture of red and yellow, with some black. Brown is a common color in nature. See more »

  • Diffraction


    Diffraction, in physics, the spreading out of waves, such as those of water, sound, radio, or light, as they pass around an obstacle or go through an opening. See more »

  • Diffusion (optics)

    Diffusion (optics)

    Diffusion, in optics, the scattering of light, as when it is reflected from a rough surface or when it passes through a translucent material. See more »

  • Gray


    Gray, or Grey, any color formed by blending black and white. Gray tones range from nearly white to nearly black. See more »

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