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Waves and Grains: Reflections on Light and Learning

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Waves and Grains: Reflections on Light and Learning Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Mark Silverman has seen light perform many wonders. From the marvel of seeing inside cloudy liquids as a result of his own cutting-edge research to reproducing and examining an unusual diffraction pattern first witnessed by Isaac Newton 300 years ago, he has studied aspects of light that have inspired and puzzled humans for hundreds of years. In this book, he draws on his many experiences as an optical and atomic physicist--and on his consummate skills as a teacher and writer about the mysteries of physics--to present a remarkable tour of the world of light. He explores theoretical, experimental, and historical themes, showing a keen eye for curious and neglected corners of the study of light and a fascination with the human side of scientific discovery.

In the course of the book, he covers such questions as how it is possible to achieve magnifications of a millionfold without a single lens or mirror. He asks what all living things have in common that might one day allow the development of a "life-form scanner" like the one in Star Trek. He considers whether more light can reflect from a surface than strikes it, and explores the origin of the strange hyperpolic diffraction pattern Newton originally produced with sunlight and knives. Silverman also discusses his new and ground-breaking experiments to see into murky substances such as fog or blood--a finding with potential applications as diverse as noninvasive medical testing and remote sensing of the environment. His wide-ranging reflections cover virtually all elements of physical optics, including propagation, reflection, refraction, diffraction, interference, polarization, and scattering.

Throughout, Silverman makes extensive reference to both modern research and the original works of giants such as Newton, Fresnel, and Maxwell. In a more personal section about physics and learning, Silverman argues for self-directed learning and discusses the central importance of stimulating scientific curiosity in students. Waves and Grains will encourage a spirit of wonder and inquiry in anyone with scientific interests.

Synopsis:

Mark Silverman has seen light perform many wonders. From the marvel of seeing inside cloudy liquids as a result of his own cutting-edge research to reproducing and examining an unusual diffraction pattern first witnessed by Isaac Newton 300 years ago, he has studied aspects of light that have inspired and puzzled humans for hundreds of years. In this book, he draws on his many experiences as an optical and atomic physicist--and on his consummate skills as a teacher and writer about the mysteries of physics--to present a remarkable tour of the world of light. He explores theoretical, experimental, and historical themes, showing a keen eye for curious and neglected corners of the study of light and a fascination with the human side of scientific discovery.

In the course of the book, he covers such questions as how it is possible to achieve magnifications of a millionfold without a single lens or mirror. He asks what all living things have in common that might one day allow the development of a "life-form scanner" like the one in Star Trek. He considers whether more light can reflect from a surface than strikes it, and explores the origin of the strange hyperpolic diffraction pattern Newton originally produced with sunlight and knives. Silverman also discusses his new and ground-breaking experiments to see into murky substances such as fog or blood--a finding with potential applications as diverse as noninvasive medical testing and remote sensing of the environment. His wide-ranging reflections cover virtually all elements of physical optics, including propagation, reflection, refraction, diffraction, interference, polarization, and scattering.

Throughout, Silverman makes extensive reference to both modern research and the original works of giants such as Newton, Fresnel, and Maxwell. In a more personal section about physics and learning, Silverman argues for self-directed learning and discusses the central importance of stimulating scientific curiosity in students. Waves and Grains will encourage a spirit of wonder and inquiry in anyone with scientific interests.

About the Author

Mark P. Silverman is Professor of Physics at Trinity College, Connecticut. He is the author of And Yet It Moves and More Than One Mystery.

Table of Contents

Preface
Ch. 1Introduction: Setting the Agenda3
Pt. 1Refraction7
Ch. 2Following the Straight and Narrow9
Ch. 3How Deep Is the Ocean? How High Is the Sky? Imaging in Stratified Media17
Pt. 2Diffraction and Interference33
Ch. 4Dark Spots - Bright Spots35
Ch. 5Newton's Two-Knife Experiment: The Hyperbolic Enigma45
Ch. 6Young's Two-Slit Experiment with Electrons77
Ch. 7Pursuing the Invisible: Imaging without Lenses97
Pt. 3Polarization141
Ch. 8Poles Apart: The Mysteries of Light Polarization143
Ch. 9The State of Light153
Pt. 4Reflection and Scattering197
Ch. 10The Grand Synthesis199
Ch. 11New Twists on Reflection215
Ch. 12Through a Glass Brightly: "Fresnel Amplification"261
Ch. 13A Penetrating Look at Scattered Light281
Pt. 5Playing with Waves337
Ch. 14Voice of the Dragon339
Pt. 6Science and Learning355
Ch. 15A Heretical Experiment in Teaching Physics357
Ch. 16Why Brazil Nuts Are on Top: Physics and the Art of Writing389
Ch. 17What Does It Take ...?399
Index407

Product Details

ISBN:
9780691001135
Author:
Silverman, Mark P.
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Author:
Silverman, Mark P.
Location:
Princeton, N.J. :
Subject:
Physics
Subject:
History
Subject:
Light
Subject:
Optics, physical
Subject:
Physical optics.
Subject:
History of Science and Medicine, Philosophy of Science
Subject:
Physics and Astroscience
Subject:
Physics-General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
April 1998
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
College/higher education:
Language:
English
Illustrations:
5 tables 92 line illus.8 halftones
Pages:
440
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 21 oz

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Related Subjects

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Science and Mathematics » History of Science » General
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Science and Mathematics » Physics » Optics

Waves and Grains: Reflections on Light and Learning Used Trade Paper
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Product details 440 pages Princeton University Press - English 9780691001135 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Mark Silverman has seen light perform many wonders. From the marvel of seeing inside cloudy liquids as a result of his own cutting-edge research to reproducing and examining an unusual diffraction pattern first witnessed by Isaac Newton 300 years ago, he has studied aspects of light that have inspired and puzzled humans for hundreds of years. In this book, he draws on his many experiences as an optical and atomic physicist--and on his consummate skills as a teacher and writer about the mysteries of physics--to present a remarkable tour of the world of light. He explores theoretical, experimental, and historical themes, showing a keen eye for curious and neglected corners of the study of light and a fascination with the human side of scientific discovery.

In the course of the book, he covers such questions as how it is possible to achieve magnifications of a millionfold without a single lens or mirror. He asks what all living things have in common that might one day allow the development of a "life-form scanner" like the one in Star Trek. He considers whether more light can reflect from a surface than strikes it, and explores the origin of the strange hyperpolic diffraction pattern Newton originally produced with sunlight and knives. Silverman also discusses his new and ground-breaking experiments to see into murky substances such as fog or blood--a finding with potential applications as diverse as noninvasive medical testing and remote sensing of the environment. His wide-ranging reflections cover virtually all elements of physical optics, including propagation, reflection, refraction, diffraction, interference, polarization, and scattering.

Throughout, Silverman makes extensive reference to both modern research and the original works of giants such as Newton, Fresnel, and Maxwell. In a more personal section about physics and learning, Silverman argues for self-directed learning and discusses the central importance of stimulating scientific curiosity in students. Waves and Grains will encourage a spirit of wonder and inquiry in anyone with scientific interests.

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