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Prateek Kumar

To the uninitiated, “optics” seems like a simple, disyllabic word but has a lot more to it than just two syllables. Let us perform a little bit of dissection, shall we? Where did this word come from? The word optics comes from a Greek root, opsis or optikos, meaning view, sight, or vision. Now we can safely venture a guess at the meaning of “optics”: it is that very field of technology and physics that deals with vision or, by extension, light; and anything that relates to this fascinating field is “optical.”



Interestingly, from what I learned, optics is not the only word derived from Gk. opsis/optikos. An optician is a specialist that examines your vision and prescribes spectacles in case you need them. This is one of those areas where optical knowledge comes in handy.


You may know that another Greek root, metron, means measurement. Now can you guess what an optometrist does? An optometrist has quite a similar profession to that of an optician, but an optometrist’s main job is to measure your eyesight, and they may or may not prescribe glasses. And what is an optometrist’s area of specialization, you ask? The answer is quite simple: optometry.


These are only a few of the spheres of application of optics. With a profound knowledge of optics, scientists have been able to decipher a great number of optical phenomena that up to a few decades ago were considered to be befuddling enigmas. But we will not delve deeper into those phenomena, not now. What we want to know is how optics works in our mundane lives. In what ways does this “science” permeate the world at large?


I know I could just say that light pervades the world and, consequently, so does optics, but that will not do, will it? So let us stretch something that could have been said in a single sentence. The fact that you are able to read this blog is a result of optics; there is no denying that. The day you came out of your mother’s womb and you looked into her tear-swept eyes, guess what made that possible. Correct answer.


Jokes apart, optics has supported, enhanced and given birth to a lot of technologies and gadgets that we enjoy today. The invention of television, which is nothing short of a crucial necessity to us, would not have been remotely possible without optics at work. And the same truth applies to computers, mobile phones, and what not … Now we are even able to look up crystal clear images of the planets in our solar system on the internet!


It feels a bit strange to think that before the era of TVs, mobiles, and all the gadgets and gizmos of such sort, someone would have imagined what optics (however it was conceptualized then) could do, and now, optics has expanded and continues to expand the scope of imagination of myriads of people. After all, optics is all about how you perceive perception

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SPIE.

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SPIE Student Chapter ANDC is the affiliated student groups with the international society SPIE established for studying optics and photonics at University of Delhi, Acharya Narendra Dev College. 

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