Two Prisms: Four Demos


Martin Sagendorfby: Martin Sagendorf

Most everyone knows that an equilateral prism will refract white light into its constituent colors: a spectrum ranging from red to violet.  But, if one uses two prisms, there’s much more to be discovered.

All that’s required:

–       a source of white light

–       a slit mounted on a large piece of cardboard

–       two equilateral prisms

–       two small pieces of card stock

–       a square of ground glass.

SIMPLE REFRACTION

The light source and slit are arranged as shown.  A fairly narrow (1/4”) color spectrum will be displayed on the ground glass.  Note that the light beams are DIVERGENT.

One Prism Read the rest of this entry »


Making Optics Demos Easier


Martin Sagendorfby:  Martin Sagendorf

We’ve all likely encountered the time-consuming effort required to set up an optics demo; all the necessary components are on hand, but they don’t easily work together.  The difficulty is obvious: the various components are either ‘loose’ or mounted at differing heights.  Thus: wasted and frustrating time ‘shimming’ with books and pads to match the heights of the components.

The solution is simple: choose a height (above bench top) and mount every optical component at the same (optical centerline) height.  But, how does one choose a height?  Simple: first, determine the optical component with the highest centerline then second, build supports for all the other components – matching this centerline height.

I began with a 100 Watt clear light bulb mounted upon a wooden base – the center of the filament was 4-3/4” above the bench top.  I then ensured that everything else I had, or planned to incorporate in demos, could be centered at this height.

Optics Demo

The supports shown in the following illustrations are of ¾” pine – either screwed or glued together.  Where required, various combinations of rubber feet and jackscrews provide support and positioning capability.  When applicable, stacks of steel washers are incorporated to add stability. Read the rest of this entry »