Polarised Light in Science and Nature

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ISBN 9780750306737
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Summary

We humans cannot see when light is polarized and this leads to unfortunate misapprehensions about this aspect of nature. Even scientists who should know better often assume that it is an obscure topic of specialized interest in only a few rather isolated areas. In fact, it is a universal feature of our world and most natural light is at least partially polarized. In the animal kingdom, insects and other animals exploit such natural polarization in some fascinating ways since they do not share this human deficiency and can both detect and analyze polarization. It may be our unfamiliarity with this aspect of light that also makes people think it is a difficult subject, yet the basis is extremely simple. When these misconceptions are overcome, the phenomena associated with polarization are found to be important throughout science and technology, from physics, astronomy, natural history, geology, chemistry, and several branches of engineering to crafts such as glass-blowing and jewelry. Polarized light also involves some very beautiful effects, most of which are easy to demonstrate.

Enriching our perception of the world, this book addresses these misconceptions and provides a framework for applications. It covers wave alignment and crystals as well as various phenomena such as scattering and reflection.

Table of Contents

Aligning the waves. Changing direction. Crystals. Fields. Left hand, right hand. Scattering. Reflection. Going circular. Seeing the polarization.

Editorial Reviews

"This is a fascinating book giving a wealth of details and examples of polarization … There are wonderful color photographs … Teachers will find this an interesting source of valuable information, well beyond what is found in most textbooks. Good students will find it fascinating reading but going well beyond what they will require for examinations."
-Geoff Auty, School Science Review

"David Pye's slim volume belongs to that rarest category of books that facture an inviting description of physical phenomena, simple demonstrations, lucid explanations, and a coherent story line … Pye's deft descriptions and the photogenic opulence of optical phenomena ensure that physics is never short-changed in this volume … a profusion of illustrations in straightforward language … all optics researchers should buy this book … ideal gift to steer undergraduate and graduate students toward the study of optics."
-Akhlesh Lakhtakia, Optics & Photonics News