Understanding Optics: The Technology of Light and Sight

It’s one of the most amazing things that human beings are able to see, be seen, and experience the world of light.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

It’s one of those things that we’re just born into so it can be easy to forget how truly beautiful a sunset is, or what it is to look at a wonderful work of art. 

Image by kalhh from Pixabay

We’re going to take a look at the idea of optics in this article, giving you some appreciation for how incredible it is and the basics of how it works. Hopefully, you can take away a little bit from this article and have some interesting talking points for the next conversation on vision that you’re a part of. 

Let’s get started. 

What are Optics?

Optics, generally, is the subject of vision and sight. When you hear someone say “optical illusion” or that they need “better optics,” they’re talking about a trick that has to do with sight or that they need a better position to see something. When we dig a little deeper down into the subject, though, we find that the world of vision is far more complex and interesting than typically thought. 

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

A step back into the idea of vision leads us to a few interesting insights right off of the bat. 

The eyeball is something that millions, if not billions, of different species on earth, poses. The interesting thing is that, while not all eyeballs are the same, most mammals have relatively similar ones. This is because all species on earth have at least one common ancestor.

That’s right, everything living around you is a far-off and distant relative. Whether you’re talking about a tree, a bug, a tiger, or a dog, it’s got some of the same genes as you. when it comes to mammals, though, our ancestry is a lot closer than it would be to a praying mantis or something. 

Evolution of Eyeballs

Our eyeballs evolved in the dark of the ocean. The initial experience of sight was just a vague impression of color or even heat. Millions of years ago, our ancestors were void of eyes or ears, even legs and hands weren’t in the picture at all for at least a few hundred million years.

Instead, we were in the water kind of kicking around and floating. Whatever we were doing, it’s useful to know where the sources of light are. In fact, those of us with the mutation to have vague impressions of light were the ones who survived, and the ones who didn’t are no longer with us. 

Image by Tristan Stephenson from Pixabay

Over a long, long time, that vague impression of light mutated and evolved into the experience of so much visual precision that it’s baffling. You can look at the tiniest tip of a needle in relatively low light and still thread it. You can look out over a city and experience a transcendent emotion as a result of your ability to see. 

It’s incredible that the experience of your eyeballs has gone from so little to so vastly complex. What’s interesting these days is the fact that there are so many different pieces of technology that can adjust and improve vision. Whether you’re looking to improve your vision or to use supplemental tools to try and help you get a better look, there are millions of options for you. 

The government and a lot of professional agencies are in the habit of using computers and technology to improve their ability to see things. 

Technology of Optics

We’re so steeped in talk of technology these days that we often forget to put our technology into perspective enough to appreciate it. Consider, for a moment, the fact that you can look down upon earth at any time you’d like to. Cameras in space allow us to look oat our planet in its entirety and explore it through the screen of a computer. 

landscape photography of field with wind mill with rainbow
Photo by Paweł Fijałkowski on Pexels.com

The camera that was sent out there to peer down with such amazing precision is based heavily on the optics that we humans experience in our own eyeballs. The same goes for the Hubble telescope peering outward into the vast expanse of the cosmos. The same goes for the military team using extremely sophisticated cameras to determine things like infrared heat coming through the thin walls of a building. 

Our ability to manipulate optics has advanced so far that it can pinpoint pieces of the universe so tiny that there would be no other way for us to understand that they exist. Protons, electrons, strings, quarks, and other infantismal building blocks of the universe are able to be seen through the help of extremely complex telescopes. 

rainbow over rippling sea in nature
Photo by Ben Mack on Pexels.com

Cameras, telescopes, and other image interpreters are able to see things in optical flats, different wavelengths, polarizers, infrared,  and other things that elevate our ability to see and understand the world around us in different ways. This technology will only advance with time, expanding on our once-absent ability to see that has now allowed us to tweak nature in a way that helps us see almost anything at any time. 

Even as we’re exposed to some of the most powerful optical technology that man has ever known, it’s important to take a step back and just think about the fact that your eyes are more complex and unique than any of the technology we’ve invented ourselves. Nature has given us the most sophisticated tools ever to try and understand it. 

Think about the general fact that you can see your family members, experience their emotion by witnessing it on their face, or look down into a colony of ants and watch how they operate. It’s a beautiful thing to see, and we’re here to help you understand it on a different level. Take a look at this link for more insight into optics and how you can use this technology to your advantage. 

blue and green sky and mountain
Photo by Benjamin Suter on Pexels.com

Want to Learn More?

Hopefully, you can take a step back from our conversation about optics and have a slightly deeper appreciation for vision, sight, and how miraculous it is to see. If you’re looking to learn more, though, we’re here to help. 

Explore our site for more ideas and insights into the worlds of biology and technology. 


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