I have spent fifty years of my professional life up to my eyeballs in optics. It has been delightful. It has been enlightening. It has brightened my life. The phenomena are interesting, important, varied, and often beautiful. The evidence of natural occurrences and examples of optical instruments and gadgets are plentiful. So it has been fascinating to learn about how things around us work and develop some of the many things that improve our lives and understanding. I recall one church service in which one of my artistic friends gave thanks for the beauty of the morning’s rainbow. I silently added, “and for understanding how it occurs.” This book is my attempt to describe many of these natural phenomena and devices in terms that everyone can understand. I want to share the fun and wonder and beauty and insights. You, too, will know how the rainbow is formed, and your appreciation for natural wonders and human creations should improve greatly.
Have you wondered why the sky is blue? Why the sunset is red? How hummingbirds show us their many colors? Why the road ahead sometimes seems to have water on it when it does not? Is global warming real? Is it a natural cycle or do we cause it? I have attempted to describe these and other natural phenomena in a simple, understandable way, devoid of the “language of the trade.”
We now use optics to assemble automobiles and airplanes with incredible precision. We flush toilets automatically using optical beams. We turn on garage lights, open doors, spot speeders, provide night vision for cars, improve agriculture, inspect meats and orange groves, analyze distant planets and galaxies, all with light. Optical instruments are used to an incredible degree in medicine. We now have much-improved endoscopes that probe our intestines and other interior parts. We even have one that is a pill. We can perform surgery at great distances from the patient, and do the same with diagnoses using telemedicine. Dentists can find tooth decay and operate with optics. This is truly painless dentistry. We can make injections without injecting. I have collected a host of such applications and gadgets that appear in our daily life, be it in medicine, communications, aerospace, manufacturing, or agriculture, and explained them in a way everyone should be able to understand.
Have you wondered how telescopes give a magnified image of distant objects? How do microscopes provide a magnified image of close objects? How do spectroscopes, eyeglasses, cameras, binoculars, and similar instruments work? How do the simple rear-view mirrors in cars dim and provide wide fields of view? Explanations of these are included.