Real-World Applications of Optics
We see and feel light everywhere but how are we actually using it in our day-to-day lives? This article will give you a brief overview of some practical application of optics, most of which perhaps will surprise you!
What is light? Is it a rainbow? Is it radiation? Is it the light bulb in your study room?
If your answer is all the above three, then you are right.
Visible light constitutes the electromagnetic spectrum that we see with our naked eyes. Besides, there is UV light and other forms that we can’t see, including gamma and X-ray waves. Also, there’s artificial light such as the bulbs in your house and vehicle that you possibly don’t give much thought to. For a long time people did not have light bulbs. In fact, they didn’t have power, and used candles and lamps in the dark.
At present, we take for granted all the various ways that light influences our day-to-day lives. However, those who study optics are very interested in exploring the behaviour of light and how we can make the most of it. Since light and optics are everywhere, it is important to know how and why light is used.
Light is an amazing thing. Firstly, it exists as waves as well as particles. It travels at great speeds and, as you should be knowing by now, it comes in all different forms. The best aspect of light is it can bend. When light hits a surface it can’t pass through, it is reflected from the surface. When it encounters a smooth surface, it gets reflected back at the same angle as it hit the surface. On the other hand, when it hits a rough surface, it is reflected or gets bent back at different angles that it encountered the material, scattering the light all over.
We use reflections for various purposes, not only the mirror in your bathroom. Solar panels or mirrors are used to collect solar energy. Microscopes and telescopes let us see minute things that are right opposite to us using reflection and huge objects appear small as they are several millions of km away. Also, fiber optic cables use reflection to send and receive data at incredibly high speeds.
The other way light bends is because of refraction, in which it bends as it passes through materials instead of getting reflected. While light passes through these materials, it slows down significantly. Consequently, it changes course a bit. Refraction has many applications in optics. Lenses use the phenomenon of refraction to form an image of a material for various purposes such as magnification.