October 1, 2009 Issue

Physics To Go 82 - Bending light

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Physics in Your World

What Wavelength Goes With a Color? image
image credit: Andrew Davidhazy; image source (#8664); larger image

What Wavelength Goes With a Color?

White light is actually full of color, and we can see these colors by shining white light through a prism. For a more detailed explanation, with diagrams, see this HyperPhysics page. For the correspondence of color and wavelength, see What Wavelength Goes With a Color?. Check out this page from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey for an interactive animation showing how color changes with wavelength.

Look at the photo above and see whether the prism bends red light or purple light more.

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Physics at Home

How to Build a Spectroscope

Build your own spectroscope using household items at Building a Spectroscope. Or build a spectroscope with a cereal box and a CD instead.


From Physics Research

Through a lens, darkly image
image credit: Mário G. Silveirinha, Physical Review Letters 102, 193903 (2009); image source; larger image

Through a lens, darkly

This image shows a prediction of how a "metamaterial" prism bends light. The prism is the white wedge in the middle, and the white light shines on the prism from below. To learn about metamaterials, see Through a lens, darkly and this Discover Magazine article.

Compare the position of the red light in this spectrum to what you see in Physics in Your World.

Worth a Look

Cloaking and Invisibility: Fact and Fiction

We might not have to steal Star Trek cloaking technology from the Romulans after all. To learn about the physics of invisibility cloaks, see this article from PhysOrg.com.

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