Optics & Waves

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The speed of light in water is approximately 225,000 km per second. While enormously fast, this is notably slower than the speed of light in a vacuum, which is 300,000 km per second.

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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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  • Why are lasers red?

    Q: Why are lasers red?

    A: Lasers are mostly red in color because red has the longest wavelength, approximately 650 nanometers. Because of this, red does not scatter easily and can be viewed from a long distance.
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  • What does the loudness of a sound depend on?

    Q: What does the loudness of a sound depend on?

    A: Loudness is a subjective measure of sound because it is dependent upon the qualities of the sound receptor. Although loudness is related to decibel levels, sound pressure, frequency, bandwidth and duration, the actual perception of the sound is the proper variable for determining loudness.
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  • How does light make colors fade?

    Q: How does light make colors fade?

    A: Light makes colors fade because ultraviolet radiation is capable of breaking down the molecules of pigments and dyes. The long molecules that make up these colors are often unstable, and the energy that ultraviolet radiation strikes these molecules with is capable of breaking the weaker molecular bonds in the structure. This degrades the colors over time, and as more molecules break down, colors begin to fade.
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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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  • 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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  • 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 wave speed?

    Q: What is wave speed?

    A: Wave speed is a measure of how fast a wave travels. It is calculated as a ratio of how far a wave travels to the time it takes the wave to travel that distance.
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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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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 did Sir Isaac Newton discover optics?

    Q: How did Sir Isaac Newton discover optics?

    A: In 1666, Sir Isaac Newton discovered optics while examining a lighted refracted from a crystal prism and observing that light consisted of a full spectrum of color. In 1704, he published a book detailing his findings titled "Opticks."
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  • How does sound travel through a medium?

    Q: How does sound travel through a medium?

    A: Sound travels as a back-and-forth vibration of the particles of its medium. It is a longitudinal mechanical pressure wave that varies greatly in its speed of travel and the distance it remains coherent, dependent upon the medium. Sound in air travels relatively slowly and for a short distance, while sound in a solid, such as the primary waves of an earthquake, travel extremely quickly and to great distances.
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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 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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  • What is the speed of light in miles per second?

    Q: What is the speed of light in miles per second?

    A: The speed of light is 186,282 miles per second. An object travelling at the speed of light would make approximately 7.5 rounds around the Earth in one second.
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  • What does light passing through a transparent medium do?

    Q: What does light passing through a transparent medium do?

    A: When light passes through a transparent medium such as water or glass, the electrons slow down, which causes the light to refract. As light enters the transparent medium, the wavelength colors bend at different angles to create a rainbow. .
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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 does amplitude affect the loudness of a sound?

    Q: How does amplitude affect the loudness of a sound?

    A: Amplitude affects the loudness of sound by using vibration to make the sound larger or smaller than it is in actuality. Amplitude is a factor which directly impacts the sound.
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  • Why doesn't sound travel through a vacuum?

    Q: Why doesn't sound travel through a vacuum?

    A: Sound does not travel through a vacuum because molecules of matter are required for sound to exist, and vacuums do not have any matter. The vibrations and movements of small particles of matter are what create sound and allow it to be heard. In a vacuum without any matter, such as space, it is impossible for sound to travel.
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