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Einstein Demonstrations- Light Defraction

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This podcast is part of the series: Einstein Demonstrations


McWane Science Center


McWane Science Center


This demonstration exhibits light’s wave-like characteristics. This is half of light’s duality; the other half being light’s particle-like characteristics. Using diffraction gratings we can compare the visible parts of atomic spectra for different elements. A diffraction grating consists of a large number of equally spaced parallel slits. These slits bend light differently according to wavelength. Incandescent lights work by heating a solid piece of tungsten wire. This heating of a solid produces a variety of wavelengths, giving an impressive spread of colors when viewed with a diffraction grating. Since the other lamps are single gaseous elements, they emit only a few wavelengths of light, their individual atomic spectra.

Length: 03:36

Content Areas: Science

Alabama Course of Study Alignments and/or Professional Development Standard Alignments:

SC (4)
3. Recognize how light interacts with transparent, translucent, and opaque materials.
transparent—most light passes through,
translucent—some light passes through,
opaque—no light passes through
  • Predicting the reflection or absorption of light by various objects
    SC (5)
    5. Contrast ways in which light rays are bent by concave and convex lenses.
  • Describing how a prism forms a visible spectrum
  • Explaining why different objects have different colors
  • Describing how mirrors reflect light
  • Example: discussing differences in the reflection of light by convex and concave mirrors
  • Describing the relationship between the structure of the eye and sight
  • Identifying types of corrective lenses used to correct different sight problems
  • Examples:
  • Identifying the contribution of van Leeuwenhoek to the development of the microscope
    SC (8)
    12. Classify waves as mechanical or electromagnetic.
    mechanical—earthquake waves;
    electromagnetic—ultraviolet light waves, visible light waves
  • Describing how earthquake waves, sound waves, water waves, and electromagnetic waves can be destructive or beneficial due to the transfer of energy
  • Describing longitudinal and transverse waves
  • Describing how waves travel through different media
  • Relating wavelength, frequency, and amplitude to energy
  • Describing the electromagnetic spectrum in terms of frequencies
  • Example: electromagnetic spectrum in increasing frequencies—microwaves, infrared light, visible light, ultraviolet light, X rays
    SC2015 (4)
    6. Develop a model of waves to describe patterns in terms of amplitude and wavelength, and including that waves can cause objects to move.
    SC2015 (4)
    8. Construct a model to explain that an object can be seen when light reflected from its surface enters the eyes.
    SC2015 (8) Physical Science
    17. Create and manipulate a model of a simple wave to predict and describe the relationships between wave properties (e.g., frequency, amplitude, wavelength) and energy.
    a. Analyze and interpret data to illustrate an electromagnetic spectrum.


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