Watching Light Travel in a Coil: Is It Possible?

In summary: This is because light can only move so fast and it takes a while for the light to travel the entire length of the coil. So with that said, fiber optics are definitely a cool technology!In summary, your uncle described how fiber optics work and how you would be able to see the light moving around the coil.
  • #1
dusty8683
22
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my uncle was describing something that showed light traveling at a slow speed and i had no idea how it worked. he said it was a clear solid plastic like tube wrapped around in a coil and when you shined a light in one end you could watch it enter the coil, spin around the coil, and then exit the other end. is that even possible? if so what was it and how did it work?
 
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  • #2
Yes, it is possible. Your uncle basically described the use and operation of fiber optics. Fiber optics are (basically) strands of glass optical fibers that are used to carry data signals (such as voice, video) in telecomm. networks. They also typically have a diameter of 60 μm

Light can do some really interesting things, especially since it is able to bend around objects, reflect and refract off of (or because of) objects. So with these thoughts in mind, the idea that your uncle described can be done with light because of total internal reflection. Total internal reflection occurs when light attempts to move from a medium of with an higher index of refraction (n1) to a medium of lower index of refraction (n2). So, in order for the light to move through the glass tube, the light must undergo multiple internal reflection incidences. Basically, the light is bouncing off the internal walls of the glass as it is reflected - even around a curve. And to determine the likelihood of total internal reflection you will need to use Snell's law which is: sin θc = n2/n1 ; where θc is the critical angle (which is what you are looking for).
 
  • #3
You wouldn't actually see it going through the coil, but would see it coming out the send. Even if you could see it in the coil, you still wouldn't be able to see the movement as you would with a clear hose with water and colored debris flowing through.
 

Related to Watching Light Travel in a Coil: Is It Possible?

1. Can light travel in a coil?

Yes, light can travel in a coil. This phenomenon is known as circularly polarized light and is commonly observed in nature, such as in the wings of some butterflies and the shells of certain marine animals.

2. How does light travel in a coil?

Light travels in a coil by changing the direction of its electric and magnetic fields in a circular motion as it propagates through space. This results in a helical pattern of light waves, as opposed to the linear wave pattern of regular light.

3. What causes light to travel in a coil?

The rotation of the electric and magnetic fields that make up light is caused by the interaction between the light wave and certain materials, such as crystals or specialized filters. This interaction is known as birefringence and can be manipulated to produce circularly polarized light.

4. Is it possible to see light traveling in a coil?

While we cannot directly see light traveling in a coil, we can observe its effects through various experiments and demonstrations. For example, circularly polarized light can be visualized by passing it through a polarizing filter and using a specialized camera filter to capture the rotating pattern.

5. What are the practical applications of light traveling in a coil?

Circularly polarized light has many practical applications, such as in 3D movie technology, optical data storage, and communication systems. It also plays a crucial role in various scientific fields, including astronomy, biology, and materials science.

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