Optics In The Fishtank

Deana Rafizadeh and David Caplan

Why is the sky blue? Why are sunsets red? How does light travel through optical fibers? To answer these questions and others, we brought out a secret weapon: the fishtank. Using a 10-gallon tank ($10) and an inexpensive laser pointer ($40) or a He-Ne laser, a flashlight, and a ruler, we can show many sophisticated effects ranging from waveguiding to Rayleigh scattering. The OSA student chapter at Northwestern University has performed these interactive demos at local high schools to encourage interest in optics.

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