Seaside physics teaching: Looking at water to understand optics

Guest post by Mirjam

Since I am currently on vacation, I asked my dear friend Mirjam for help with this weeks experimental friday. And I can tell you, you’re in for a treat. She is deeply into oceanography and especially wavewatching, which, as you can probably tell, go very well together. And what makes her thoughts and ideas so outstanding is how she manages to see waves and patterns every time she looks upon water. I truly admire that. So let’s see what she can teach us about optics by looking at water.

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Lunar and Solar Eclipses

Modelling with an apple and an egg

Last Tuesday, on July 16th 2019, we had a partial lunar eclipse which was visible in Germany. Unfortunately it was too cloudy for me to see but when I was 8, there was a solar eclipse right over Germany (in 1999) and I loved the event. I didn’t quite understand how rare solar eclipses are when you don’t travel to see one. I guess I’d appreciate it so much more now. Lunar eclipses are more common but still events for themselves. And what I also love about eclipses is that there are so many ways to visualize and understand these phenomena. I’ll explain three in this post.

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Why does a Laptop get hot?

Thoughts about the energy concept

Let’s talk about energy. But don’t despair, this won’t become too theoretical. I promise. All I want to do is to nudge you into the right direction of thinking about energy as a concept that can explain many things in everyday life. Because that’s all there is to it. Obviously, the last sentence isn’t true, as energy is still something worth researching. But the technicalities are not important, but how we think about it is. So let me give you an example.

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Through a different kind of lens

Using waterdrop art to explain optics

I am a huge fan of the art of photography. I love how some people are able to catch the perfect moment at the perfect time and place and just get it right with their camera. And sometimes, things can turn out pretty science-y. And when you think about it, it’s pretty obvious how photography is a lot of optical physics. Let me show you what I mean.

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