Diffraction Glasses

picture of diffraction glasses

Diffraction glasses allow you to see the world in a whole new way. You can have a lot of fun with them watching fireworks, and looking at various other light sources, whether artificial or natural. They're also great for parties. Just hand them out and let people discover for themselves the visual treat that they provide.

Check out a video of the view you have through these glasses:

When you look through these glasses you are looking through a special material called a diffraction grating. This grating is a piece of plastic that has many slit-like openings that are very narrow and closely spaced to each other. When light passes through these openings, it bends by an amount dependent on the type of light. For example, red light bends more than yellow light.

When white light enters a diffraction grating, it separates into its constituent colors. These colors are the same as the spectrum of colors you see in a rainbow. This is similar to how a prism works.

Different light sources produce different color breakdowns. For example, the spectrum produced by an incandescent light is different from the spectrum produced by a fluorescent light.

An object can reveal interesting information about itself based on the spectrum of colors it produces when the light it emits passes through a diffraction grating. For example, you can determine how hot the object is, how fast it's moving, or what it's made of. When looking at objects, such as distant stars, this kind of information can be very useful.

A cd and dvd acts as a diffraction grating. When you look at one you see a rainbow of colors. This is caused by the incoming light hitting it, and then being diffracted into its different constituent colors.

Return to Science Toys page

Return to Real World Physics Problems home page