Optics & Waves

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 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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  • 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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  • 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 is the relationship between vibration and sound?

    Q: What is the relationship between vibration and sound?

    A: Sound is created through the vibration of air. When something produces vibrations, it creates sound waves. The movement of the vibration through the air is what people hear when they hear sound.
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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 is light made up of?

    Q: What is light made up of?

    A: Light is made of photons, which are fundamental particles. Because photons have no mass, relativistic effects allow them to travel at appropriately the speed of light.
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  • How is light dispersed through a prism?

    Q: How is light dispersed through a prism?

    A: White light bends or refracts as it enters and exits the triangular prism, with shorter wavelengths bending the greatest amounts and longer wavelengths refracting less, resulting in a light spectrum of different colors like a rainbow. Prisms are made of glass or other transparent material and cut so the angle of entry and exit maximize this effect.
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  • Who invented the Doppler Effect?

    Q: Who invented the Doppler Effect?

    A: The Doppler Effect was proposed by Austrian physicist Christian Doppler in 1842. The theory was tested in 1845 by Dutch meteorologist C.H.D. Buys Ballot. Ballot's findings were supported by Scottish scientist John Scott Russell in 1848.
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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 is a spectrograph?

    Q: What is a spectrograph?

    A: A spectrograph splits or disperses light into its spectrum so it can be recorded and analysed. This can be done by using a prism or a diffraction grating.
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  • What did Wilhelm Roentgen invent?

    Q: What did Wilhelm Roentgen invent?

    A: Wilhelm Roentgen invented the use of cathode rays to take X-rays of the body in 1895, according to About.com. Roentgen was honored for his discovery by receiving the Nobel Prize in physics in 1901.
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  • What is an instrument that separates light into various wavelengths?

    Q: What is an instrument that separates light into various wavelengths?

    A: A prism is an instrument that separates light into various wavelengths. Visible white light contains light of many different wavelengths. When white light passes through a prism, each wavelength bends at a different angle to produce a rainbow effect with each wavelength of light displayed in its own band.
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  • How does a gamma ray telescope work?

    Q: How does a gamma ray telescope work?

    A: Gamma ray telescopes use special detectors to measure gamma radiation from stars. Unlike conventional telescopes, gamma ray telescopes don’t take pictures or use optics. Instead, they create maps of gamma sources based on where astronomers point them. The data gathered provides a unique view of the universe.
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  • What is the definition of resonant frequency?

    Q: What is the definition of resonant frequency?

    A: Resonance frequencies are the natural frequencies at which it is easiest to get an object to vibrate. While setting up vibrations at other frequencies is possible, they require much more energy and constant input to maintain than a resonance frequency. Most objects have several resonance frequencies, and this property must be taken into account because of their positive, as with musical instruments, or negative, as with bridges, effects.
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  • How does chromatic adaptation work?

    Q: How does chromatic adaptation work?

    A: Chromatic adaptation enables the human eye to adapt to various forms of light. According to Images And Visual Representation Group, chromatic adaptation causes the eyes to ignore the color of the surrounding light, enabling them to retain the color and appearance of the original object even after looking at something else.
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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 is energy that can move through empty space?

    Q: What is energy that can move through empty space?

    A: Electromagnetic radiation is the type of energy that propagates through a vacuum. Different portions of the electromagnetic spectrum are known by different names, such as light, heat and radio waves, but are all part of the same phenomenon.
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  • What are examples of transparent objects?

    Q: What are examples of transparent objects?

    A: Some examples of transparent objects include glass, cellophane, diamond and amber. Transparency is caused when light passes through a material without being scattered. It has application in many fields and is used both for function and aesthetical purposes.
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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 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 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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