The Laser Teaching Center
Founded 1998

Dept. of Physics & Astronomy
Stony Brook University

Explore Optics !!

Visit these web sites to explore optics and related topics. Last updated 22 June 2014.

Learn about Optics

Physics Classroom

The Physics Classroom tutorial was written by Tom Henderson, a science teacher at Glenbrook South High School in Glenview, Illinois. Reading through the tutorial is great way to start learning about (or to review) physics and optics (start at "Waves").


Hyperphysics is a clever reference and self-learning tool that was developed by R. Nave at Georgia State University for high school teachers. It's a logically structured collection of screen-size "cards," with excellent illustrations and some interactive calculators. Don't be fooled by the tree-like navigation maps - there are additional write-ups that aren't shown as tree leaves. The Light and Color section covers much of optics.

ActivPhysics Online

Interactive supplemental material from the popular textbook by Young and Freedman, that's used in Stony Brook's Honors Physics course.

Physics of Light and Optics

An on-line text by Justin Peatross and Michael Ware, Brigham Young University (15 MB .pdf file).

Optics in the News

Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD)

APOD features an image which changes daily at around midnight. Each amazing image is accompanied by links that you can follow to learn more. Last but not least, all past APOD's are available in an searchable archive, making this site a terrific resource. Visit it daily!

American Physical Society (APS)

The APS web site ( has many fascinating articles for non-specialists at The above link is for recent papers there related to optics.

Optics and Photonics News

OPN is the monthly magazine of the Optical Society of America. Columns like "Light Touch" introduce optics-related topics. Full-length articles are excellent and not overly technical, but are only available to OSA members or subscribers.

History of Optics

Wikipedia Timeline
Brief History of Optics
Molecular Expressions Timeline
An Anecdotal History of Optics

These sites on the history of optics are great place to start understanding that many people have been making discoveries in optics for a very long time!

Atmospheric Optics

Optics Picture of the Day (OPOD)
Atmospheric Optics - Darryn Schneider
Atmospheric Optics - wikipedia

Less well-known than APOD, OPOD is mostly about atmospheric optical effects, rainbows and the like. (Both sites often show images that illustrate the concept of angular size.) Atmospheric Optics is a similar "hobby" site run by Darryn Schneider. Last but not least, this wikipedia article will lead to many others.


The Laser Adventure

A good introduction to the physics of lasers, by Rami Arieli. Also has suggestions for simple experiments.

Laser Fundamentals

Four videos from MIT Open Courseware. Note that the description of the first video actually pertains to a separate video on fiber optics.

Sam's Laser FAQ

(Almost) anything you'd ever want to know about real-world lasers. By Sam Goldwasser, an LTC mentor.

101+ Experiments with Lasers

These experiments were originally described in a booklet put out by the Metrologic Company. Now part of Laser FAQ.

Laser Safety

Laser Safety is a complex topic, but this Wikipedia article is a good place to start.


Molecular Expressions
Olympus Microscopy Resource Center
Zeiss Microscopy Campus
Nikon "MicroscopyU"


Optics for Teens

Created by OSA. Explains optics as a career, and has some useful optics education materials and links. But be aware that using some content requires installing specialized (free) software.

Interesting Collection of Puzzles and Illusions

Plenty of riddles, puzzles, and visual illusions sure to amuse students of all ages.

Physics Central

APS web site for teens.