Monday, May 24, 2010
Sunday, May 2, 2010
In our most recent unit, geometric optics, I learned quite a lot about how light travels and interacts with mirrors, lenses, and various mediums. We began our units by learning about waves and sound. Through this unit we were introduced to the most basic topics that were necessary to understand color, light travel, refraction, diffraction, and reflection. This unit introduced us to frequency, speed, wavelength, and the Doppler effect. In this unit we also used online wave simulations that demonstrated interference, whether it be constructive, or destructive. After this briefing, we began to talk about mirrors. We had various labs where were experimented with flat mirrors, concave (converging) mirrors and convex (diverging) mirrors. In these experiments we were proved the relation between the focal point and the radius of curvature. After these qualitative experiments, we were introduced to a style of determining the qualities of images formed by mirrors called the ray-tracing method. We proceeded to learn about the focal point, radius, center of curvature, real images, virtual images, upright images, and inverted images. This style of ray tracing has three standard light rays (1, 2, and 3) that go from a fixed position on the reflected object to the mirror in a certain fashion as follows: ray 1 is drawn parallel to the normal line, and is then reflected off into the focal point; ray two is draw through the focal point, and then reflected off of the mirror parallel to the normal line; ray 3 is drawn from the figure to the center of curvature. As we draw these ray-tracing models we write down the characteristics of the images formed. After mastering these concepts we learned the quantitative application to optics. We discussed and determined how to conclude image characteristics based on our numbers we solved for. After this we learned about Snell's Law of image refraction. We then moved on into lenses and talked about the uses of lenses for people with poor vision and how glasses work. This was particularly fascinating when Cyrus, one of my classmates who is a very fascinated and driven by studies in the brain, gave a presentation from his blog on how the eye works. We learned about diverging and converging lenses, and learned how to do ray-tracing diagrams for these as well. We learned that the characteristics of the images lenses produce are very different from how we call the characteristics of images formed by mirrors. This was a very informative unit full with information and plenty more to study, discover, and explore in the future.
In this unit we covered a lot of material in a very timely manner and I found lenses very difficult. I thought that I had understood mirrors very well, but when we began studying lenses I was fascinated, but a little bit overwhelmed by the differences. I found converting quantitative numbers in problems difficult to turn into characteristics and apply them.
My problem solving skills have become even better in the recent months. In this unit I was able to draw diagrams that helped me even when they were not asked for. In my geometry class I have applied this technique of approaching problems and solving them, as I found both this unit and my geometry class very similar. Especially when I had a hard time answering a question that was more qualitative in more general circumstances, I found that by drawing a diagram I was able to understand the problem more clearly. This unit not only taught me about optics, but also introduced me to a whole new way of dividing difficult problems into smaller, easier ones.