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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  • Why are rainbows curved?

    Q: Why are rainbows curved?

    A: Rainbows appear curved because sunlight shines into raindrops. The sunlight then leaves the raindrop at a different angle than when it first entered, resulting in a curved shape.
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  • What are optical fibers made from?

    Q: What are optical fibers made from?

    A: Commercial optical fiber cables use highly purified glass for their cores, glass or polymers for their cladding, and polyurethane for their jackets. Some optical fiber cables use plastic cores, which are cheaper; however, this type of cable has a higher signal loss and works at shorter ranges than glass. Both types transmit light signals using reflection along the axis of the core.
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  • What does the acronym LASER stand for?

    Q: What does the acronym LASER stand for?

    A: LASER is the abbreviation (or acronym) of "light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation," according to Curiosity.com. The foundation work for lasers was set in motion by Albert Einstein in 1917, according to Wikipedia.
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  • What are the physics of a megaphone?

    Q: What are the physics of a megaphone?

    A: A megaphone directs or funnels the voice to a specific direction, and it also regulates the distribution of sound waves from the mouth to the open medium. The secret behind the workings of a megaphone is in its shape.
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  • What are some examples of sound energy?

    Q: What are some examples of sound energy?

    A: Examples of sound energy include sounds made by singing, whistling, musical instruments and horns. Sound is a vibration that causes a wave of pressure through air, water, wood and other mediums. It is heard when the wave reaches the ear and is perceived by the brain. Sound waves have characteristics including their frequency, amplitude, intensity, speed, direction and wavelength.
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  • What is the Doppler effect?

    Q: What is the Doppler effect?

    A: The Doppler effect is an observed shift in the frequency of a wave as the source of the emission moves relative to the observer. As a sound- or light-emitting object moves closer to an observer, the pitch of the emissions rises. As the object recedes, the pitch falls.
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  • How do waves carry energy from one place to another?

    Q: How do waves carry energy from one place to another?

    A: Energy is transferred in electromagnetic waves by vibrations in electric and magnetic fields. The vibration of air particles is energy transfer in sound waves, while the transfer of energy in water waves is the oscillation of water particles.
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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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  • What is the difference between reflection and refraction?

    Q: What is the difference between reflection and refraction?

    A: The difference between reflection and refraction is that in reflection waves bounce off of a surface while in refraction those waves do not bounce back but pass through the surface, which bends them and changes the speed of the waves. The image of a face is reflected back from a pool of water, but the light on the bottom of the pool of water is refracted because it is uneven and hazy due to the way the water bends the light waves.
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  • Can sound travel through water?

    Q: Can sound travel through water?

    A: Although sound can travel through water, it will be distorted compared to sound traveling through air. As sound waves pass through the water, they are attenuated and slowed, leading to frequency warping and decreases in amplitude.
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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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  • What causes a mirage?

    Q: What causes a mirage?

    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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  • Can light bend?

    Q: Can light bend?

    A: Yes, light can bend through diffraction and refraction. Diffraction is when light bends around a corner or a small opening and fills the larger space beyond it. Refraction is the bending of light when it transitions through different mediums, such as light seen in the air and entering into water.
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  • Where does ultraviolet light come from?

    Q: Where does ultraviolet light come from?

    A: Ultraviolet light comes from the Sun. Earth's ozone layer absorbs most of the ultraviolet light before it reaches the surface, protecting humans and all other life forms from the harmful effects of these rays.
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  • How are sounds made?

    Q: How are sounds made?

    A: Sounds travel through waves, and these waves are made by vibrating an object, whether vocal cords or drums, according to the University of Rhode Island. Moving the object in one direction compresses the air in front of it. The pressure differences in the air move away from the object, creating sound waves.
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  • How do sound waves travel?

    Q: How do sound waves travel?

    A: How Stuff Works explains that sound travels in mechanical waves, and these waves are disturbances that cause energy to move. The energy is then transported through a medium. Disturbances occur when an object vibrates. This vibration is caused by interconnected and interactive particles.
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  • How does a kaleidoscope work?

    Q: How does a kaleidoscope work?

    A: A kaleidoscope works by reflecting light that bumps into a reflective surface such as a mirror. It has two or more mirrors placed at an angle to each other. The mirror assembly is surrounded by a case, with an eyehole at one end of the mirrors and a collection of objects at the other end.
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  • What is the difference between loud and soft sounds?

    Q: What is the difference between loud and soft sounds?

    A: Loud sounds are sounds that are high in volume and soft sounds are those that are low in volume. Sound is a type of vibrating pressure that is transmitted in waves. The volume of a sound is directly determined by the amplitude of its sound waves, which is the height of a sound wave. The amplitude and volume of a sound increase as the height of the sound waves increases.
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  • Why do people need sound?

    Q: Why do people need sound?

    A: The ability to perceive sound is critical for the survival of most species on Earth, including humans. The ability to assess the environment through hearing evolved in a variety of ways in the animal kingdom, and high-functioning animals such as humans adapted the sense of sound as a means to communicate.
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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 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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