Optics

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.


Why do we love looking at a perfectly stacked display of soup cans or six flower petals around a stamen? Our brains seem wired for it -- but why?

If you're one of those people who chooses invisibility as your desired superpower, it could mean you have a dark side.

Light-reflective glasses promise to foil CCTV cameras. Here's how.

Electronics giant Samsung reportedly has patented 3-D TV tech that projects a hologram so that viewers don't have to wear special glasses.

Helicopters, ceiling fans, even tricked-out car tire rims: Sometimes they can even look like they're going backward, or bending.

A wall of Lego-like bricks creates the illusion of hyper-vivid, three-dimensional audio, altering sound waves much like a hologram does visible light.

It's a young lady! It's an old woman! It's a blue dress! No, it's gold! Why are we fooled by optical illusions and what do they tell us about how the brain works?

Whereas the majority of sighted people see a world with just a million colors, or fewer if you're color-blind.

Cosmological redshift: sounds like the latest blockbuster coming to a theater near you, doesn't it? In reality, it has to do with how light itself travels -- and understanding how it works is essential to advanced space telescope technology.

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.

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.

Seven ounces a ray! No, that's a lie. Measuring the weight of light is not as straightforward as that. So what's the more complicated explanation?

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.

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.

All colors that you see fall into the visible light spectrum. Learn about the colors in the visible light spectrum in this article.

Unlike the cheap microscopes you peered into in school, these advanced instruments can breathe rich detail into the tiny world around us, including the world of nanotechnology.

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?

The Diamond synchrotron is a massive facility that houses a beam of light 10 billion times brighter than the sun. But is that all it does?

A group of scientists from Duke University have demonstrated a simplified cloaking device. Learn about the cloaking device that the Duke scientists created and find out if a real-life cloaking device is actually possible.

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.

We first reported on the possibility of an invisibility cloak last year. Now a different invisibility cloak is making the news -- one that uses metamaterials to redirect light away from the wearer.

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.

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.

You're driving down the road on a sunny day, and you see a puddle of water coming up. You look again and it's gone! What happened? You’ll be able to answer that question if you read our miraculous mirage article.

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

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