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Polarization-polarizing filters

  1. Apr 19, 2006 #1
    Can someone possibly help me understand what polarizing filters do?

    My teacher gave us a website to go to but I don't quite get what they are saying. Here is the link to the website: http://www.colorado.edu/physics/2000/polarization/

    Any help at all on this topic would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much in advance.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 20, 2006 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Are you familiar with the wave nature of light? About how light travels along as a combination of an electric field wave (E) and a magnetic field wave (B)? If the E wave is oscillating up and down vertically as the light travels along, that light is said to have vertical polarization. If the E field wave is horizontal as the light travels along, that light is horizontally polarized. Regular light is usually a mix of polarizations. Some physical phenomena can affect the different polarizations of light differently. Like when light reflects at grazing incidence off of water, the vertically polarized light is not reflected as much as the horizontally polarized light. That's why polarized sunglasses have filters in them that absorb horizontally polarized light and pass vertically polarized light. That helps to remove the "glare" of the reflection of light off of water.

    Does that help at all?
  4. Apr 21, 2006 #3
    Yes it does help. Thank you!
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