Optics is the discipline of physics that analyzes the properties and behavior of light inclusive of interactions with matter coupled with the construction of the instruments that use it. It primarily describes and detects the behavior pattern of ultraviolet, visible light, and infrared light since it’s an electromagnetic wave.
The classical electromagnetic description of light is used for the majority optical phenomenon. Often the complete electromagnetic description of light is tough to put into application. Geometric optics mostly treats light as a collection of rays traveling in a straight line that can be bent or reflected while passing through different surfaces.
Physical optics is a highly comprehensive model that features wave effects like diffraction and/or interference that cannot be assessed in geometric optics. Some phenomena also explain that light features properties like wave and particles. While considering the particle-like properties of light, the light is usually modeled as a collection of photons.
Optical science is studied and considered relevant to different disciplines like astronomy, medicine, engineering, and photography. A practical source of an application of optics is actually found in a wide range of products such as mirrors, telescopes, microscopes, lasers, and fiber optics.
How did optics become an important branch of study?
The application and study of optics began with lens development by ancient Egyptians and Mesopotamians. The first known lenses were created from polished crystal, mostly quartz dating back to as early as 700 from Assyrian quartz. Ancient Romans and Greeks used to fill water in glass spheres for making lenses.
Greek philosophy on optics was broken down into different opposing theories focusing mainly on how vision worked along with the intromission theory and the emission theory. The intromission theory primarily saw things as a vision of objects being cast as copies of themselves. In the 13th century medieval Europe, Robert Grosseteste wrote about light from four different perspectives as epistemology, metaphysics, theology, and etiology of light.
Italy is the place where the first among the wearable glasses were invented in 1286. This was the beginning of the grinding and polishing of optical lenses in the industry. Johannes Kepler explored geometric optics through his writings. He covered topics like lenses, reflection by mirrors, principles of pinhole cameras, inverse square law governing the intensity of light. In the 1660s and 1670s, Issac Newton attempted to expand Descartes’ ideas to a corpuscle light theory, thereby determining light to be a mix of different colors that can be separated into particular components with the help of a prism.
So, all this information is enough to understand the importance of optics in today’s modern world with its many applications already in use.