Optics & Waves

A:

A mirage occurs when the air density difference caused by extremely hot temperatures causes photons to travel in a path other than a straight line. Hot air is less dense than cold air, so if there is a significant temperature gradient, the light reflected from an object may be refracted. This can distort the image.

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  • When does the Calvin cycle of photosynthesis begin?

    Q: When does the Calvin cycle of photosynthesis begin?

    A: The Calvin cycle of photosynthesis begins after light energy is transformed into chemical energy by the cells of plants. The adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, molecules created power the Calvin cycle. The Calvin cycle uses the energy to create carbohydrates from water and carbon dioxide.
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  • What is pitch in physics?

    Q: What is pitch in physics?

    A: Pitch, in physics, is equivalent to the frequency of sound waves, which are any compression waves in a medium. The word "pitch" is used specifically in situations where humans are perceiving the frequency of sound and changes in that frequency. Differences and changes in perceived pitch aren't always the same as the actual differences and changes in the frequencies of the sounds perceived.
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  • Is it possible to become invisible?

    Q: Is it possible to become invisible?

    A: Though there is some research and experimentation on the subject, there is not, as of 2014, a viable way to become completely invisible. Objects and people are visible because light reflects off them and hits the viewer's eye.
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  • What does a light wave look like?

    Q: What does a light wave look like?

    A: Humans see light waves as colors. The specific color is determined by the measurement of the wavelength. On the visible light spectrum, the shortest wavelengths are violet and the longest wavelengths are red.
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  • What are the colors of the spectrum?

    Q: What are the colors of the spectrum?

    A: The colors of the visible spectrum are red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet. Color is a visual representation of electromagnetic radiation. Different wavelengths and frequencies are perceived as different colors.
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  • What is infrared used for?

    Q: What is infrared used for?

    A: Infrared is used for keeping things warm, reading information and checking heat. The uses for infrared technology are so diverse because infrared not only detects heat but produces heat in objects that it strikes.
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  • What makes sound waves?

    Q: What makes sound waves?

    A: Mechanical motion forms through the sound waves made by vibrating massive objects. Guitar, harp or piano strings are clear examples of the principle, but horns, percussive instruments and woodwinds also create vibrations that make sound waves. Even ordinary objects create sound waves if they vibrate.
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  • What are the dangers of infrared waves?

    Q: What are the dangers of infrared waves?

    A: Infrared waves are dangerous because they can cause burns, skin irritation, dehydration, low blood pressure and eye damage. A form of heat radiation, infrared waves are most dangerous at high levels.
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  • Where do ultraviolet rays come from?

    Q: Where do ultraviolet rays come from?

    A: Most of the ultraviolet rays that hit the Earth come from the sun. However, there are man-made items that give off ultraviolet rays, such as tanning beds, mercury vapor lamps and black lights.
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  • Can sound waves be reflected?

    Q: Can sound waves be reflected?

    A: Sound waves can be reflected. They most often reflect when they hit an obstacle in their path, such as a hard wall. Some sound waves will be reflected when the sound transitions from traveling through one medium to another, such as going from air to water.
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  • What are examples of diffraction?

    Q: What are examples of diffraction?

    A: A common example of diffraction of light is looking at an object that is partially immersed in water, where the object appears to be in a different place. Sound diffraction is usually not visible, but it is audible through walls or other solid objects.
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  • Why are sound waves classified as mechanical?

    Q: Why are sound waves classified as mechanical?

    A: Sound is classified as a mechanical wave because it requires a medium to propagate its energy and cannot be heard in vacuum. There are two broad classes of waves - mechanical and electromagnetic. One requires a medium to be heard, and the other does not.
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  • Where does light come from?

    Q: Where does light come from?

    A: Light is a form of energy produced by many chemical reactions. The sun and other stars produce huge amounts of heat and light through fusion and are the source of most visible light in the universe. Other reactions that produce light are combustion and chemoluminescence.
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  • Does sound travel faster than light?

    Q: Does sound travel faster than light?

    A: Sound travels much more slowly than light. The speed of light is colloquially known as the cosmic speed limit as physical constraints prevent objects of macroscopic scale from traveling faster than light.
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  • What causes optical illusions?

    Q: What causes optical illusions?

    A: Optical illusions are caused by a mismatch of what the eyes see and what the brain interprets, according to ABC News. The brain is often tricked into thinking something is moving when contrasting colors are placed in close proximity to each other and repeated. This is why when people want a pattern to move like an optical illusion, the shapes of the pattern are outlined in black and white.
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  • What is a hand lens?

    Q: What is a hand lens?

    A: A hand lens is used to magnify items. Hand lenses are used in scientific research, police work and everyday life. Hand lenses are magnifying glasses small enough to be held in a hand and easy to manipulate.
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  • What is light made of?

    Q: What is light made of?

    A: The exact composition of light has eluded physicists for years, but the predominant theory is that light is comprised of a kind of energy called electromagnetic radiation. This energy behaves like a wave and a particle in different situations. Scientists believe electromagnetic radiation is composed of bundles of energy called photons.
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  • What causes sound waves?

    Q: What causes sound waves?

    A: Pressure waves in the air cause sound waves to form. However, sound waves can also form in water and in solids. The speed of sound varies significantly depending on the temperature and medium it travels through.
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  • How do convex mirrors work?

    Q: How do convex mirrors work?

    A: Convex mirrors work by reflecting parallel rays of light as if they all emanated from a single point somewhere behind the mirror. The distance between the actual surface of the mirror and this point depends on the level of curvature, with greater curvature resulting in lesser distance. Images in convex mirrors are distorted, with progressive compression of the image away from its center.
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  • What is the distance between wave crests?

    Q: What is the distance between wave crests?

    A: The distance between wave crests is called wavelength. It is a characteristic shared by waves of all kinds, including ocean waves and sound waves. Wavelength is measured from the highest point, or summit, of one wave's crest to the summit of the next wave's crest.
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  • What are the uses for concave lenses and convex lenses?

    Q: What are the uses for concave lenses and convex lenses?

    A: Concave lenses are used for correcting myopia or short-sightedness. Convex lenses are used for focusing light rays to make items appear larger and clearer, such as with magnifying glasses.
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