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.

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The Eyes Have It: Scientists 3-D Print Human Corneas

Scientists are using 3-D printers to make human corneas, an advancement that could end the perennial shortage of corneas from donors.

Why Do We Get So Much Pleasure From Symmetry?

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?

Can You Really Make Yourself Invisible?

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

New Eyewear Protects Your Identity from Facial Recognition Cameras

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

Samsung Eyes Projecting Holograms From TV — No 3-D Glasses Required

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

Why Spinning Blades Look Weird on TV

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

Scientists Create Mind-blowing 3-D Acoustic Holograms

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.

How Optical Illusions Work

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?

Lucky Tetrachromats See World With Up to 100 Million Colors

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

HowStuffWorks: How To Draw An Impossible Shape

It’s true: In 6 easy steps, you too can draw an impossible shape.

What is cosmological redshift?

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.

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.

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.

How much does light weigh?

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?

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.

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.

What are the colors in the visible light spectrum?

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

How Scanning Electron Microscopes Work

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.

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?

Is there a light 10 billion times brighter than the sun?

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?

Is it possible to make a cloaking device?

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.

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.

Invisibility Cloak For Real This Time?

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.

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.

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.


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