The Exploratorium
Science Snacks
Snacks about Light

Snack name

Description

Afterimage

A flash of light prints a lingering image in your eye.

Anti-Gravity Mirror

It's all done with mirrors!

Benham's Disk

A rotating black-and-white disk produces the illusion of color.

Bird in the Cage

Stare at a color and see it change.

Blue Sky

Now you can explain why the sky is blue and the sunset is red.

Bone Stress

Polarized light reveals stress patterns in clear plastic

Bridge Light

A thin layer of air trapped between two pieces of Plexiglas™ produces rainbow-colored interference patterns.

Bronx Cheer Bulb

Some lightbulbs appear to wiggle and flash when you give them the raspberry, but the only thing wiggling is you.

Bubble Suspension

Soap bubbles float on a cushion of carbon dioxide gas.

Bubble Tray

Create giant bubbles.

Colored Shadows

Shadows are not all black and white.

Convection Currents

Make your own heat waves in an aquarium.

Corner Reflector

See yourself as others see you.

Critical Angle

Why your phone calls don't leak out of optical fibers.

Cylindrical Mirror

This cylindrical mirror lets you see yourself as others see you.

Diffraction

Light can bend around edges.

Disappearing Glass Rods

You can make glass objects disappear.

Everyone Is You and Me

See yourself become someone else.

Giant Lens

A lens creates an image that hangs in midair.

Give and Take

Dark-colored materials both absorb and emit energy more readily than light-colored materials.

Glue Stick Sunset

The scattering of light by the atmosphere, which creates the blue sky and red sunsets, can be modeled when light from a flashlight shines through clear glue sticks.

Gray Step

Without a boundary, it's hard to distinguish different shades of gray.

Hot Spot

You can focus the invisible light from an electric heater.

Inverse Square Law

Why the world gets dark so fast outside the circle of the campfire.

Laser Jello

Use gelatin as a smoked lens, to view total internal reflection, and as a color filter.

Look Into Infinity

Images of images of images can repeat forever.

Magic Wand

See pictures in thin air.

Mirrorly a Window

What you see is often affected by what you expect to see.

Moire Patterns

When you overlap materials with repetitive lines, you create moire patterns.

Parabolas

It's all done with mirrors.

Pinhole Magnifier

Who needs expensive optical equipment?

Polarized Light Mosaic

With polarized light, you can make a stained glass window without glass.

Polarized Sunglasses

If you rotate a pair of polarizing sunglasses, you will find that they cut road glare much better in some positions than in others.

Pupil

Your pupil changes size to control how much light enters your eye.

Real Image

Create the image of an object in space using a $2 ornament.

Rotating Light

Polarized light passing through sugar, water "rotates" to reveal beautiful colors.

Seeing Your Blind Spot

See your blind spot.

Seeing Your Retina

You can use a dim point of light to cast a shadow of the blood supply of your retina onto the retina itself. This will allow you to see the blood supply of your retina, and even your blind spot.

Soap Bubbles

Create geometric art with soap films.

Solar Brightness

A photometer made by making a grease spot on white paper can be used to compare the brightness of the sun to the brightness of a lamp. By finding a position at which the sun is as bright as the lamp the power output of the sun can be estimated.

Spectra

Fingerprints for light sources.

Spherical Reflections

Discover art and science in a myriad of spherical reflections

Touch the Spring

You can see the spring, but you can't touch it.

Water Sphere Lens

Make a lens and a magnifying glass by filling a bowl with water.