Widget Wednesdays #3

I’ve always been fascinated by optics. It was one of the many great discoveries made by Sir Isaac Newton.

When I was a kid I used to come up with all sorts of ideas for optical devices. Most of them were based on a wrong idea of how optics worked, but that didn’t stop me.

Now that I know a little more, I like the idea of teaching optics through the use of software toys. Such a toy should allow you to create and then combine optical elements at will, varying such things as surface curvature and index of refraction — things that are difficult to vary in the real world.

Ultimately we’d like those toys to exist in a kind of tangible augmented reality, but we are not quite there yet. The next best thing is to simulate optics on a computer screen.

For this week’s Widget Wednesday I am sharing with you one of my software experiments with optics. This program just focuses on letting you define your own lenses, and showing you what happens to the light rays that pass through them.

Try it. I hope you find it illuminating!

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