Lesson: Chapter - 18

Optics

Optics is the branch of physics that deals with light and vision, chiefly the generation, propagation, and detection of electromagnetic radiation having wavelengths greater than x-rays and shorter than microwaves.

Having studied wave phenomena generally, let’s take a look at the special case of electromagnetic waves.

EM waves are transverse traveling waves produced by the oscillations of an electric field and a magnetic field. Because they are not transmitted by any material medium, as sound waves are through air molecules, EM waves can travel through the vacuum of space and give us valuable information about the universe beyond the Earth’s atmosphere.

Electromagnetic waves play a great many roles in our lives: we use EM waves of different wavelengths to microwave our dinner, to transmit radio signals, and to x-ray for broken bones. Most important, we are only able to see because our eyes can detect the EM waves that make up the spectrum of visible light.

Optics is the study of visible light, and how light can be manipulated to produce visual images.

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