Optics--a field of physics focusing on the study of light--is also central to many areas of biology, including vision, ecology, botany, animal behavior, neurobiology, and molecular biology. The Optics of Life introduces the fundamentals of optics to biologists and nonphysicists, giving them the tools they need to successfully incorporate optical measurements and principles into their research. Sonke Johnsen starts with the basics, describing the properties of light and the units and geometry of measurement. He then explores how light is created and propagates and how it interacts with matter, covering topics such as absorption, scattering, fluorescence, and polarization. Johnsen also provides a tutorial on how to measure light as well as an informative discussion of quantum mechanics. The Optics of Life features a host of examples drawn from nature and everyday life, and several appendixes that offer further practical guidance for researchers. This concise book uses a minimum of equations and jargon, explaining the basic physics of light in a succinct and lively manner. It is the essential primer for working biologists and for anyone seeking an accessible introduction to optics.
Sonke Johnsen is associate professor of biology at Duke University.
Acknowledgments ix Chapter One Introduction 1 Chapter Two Units and Geometry 8 Chapter Three Emission 31 Chapter Four Absorption 75 Chapter Five Scattering 116 Chapter Six Scattering with Interference 151 Chapter Seven Fluorescence 181 Chapter Eight Polarization 203 Chapter Nine Measuring Light 237 Chapter Ten What Is Light, Really? 271 Appendix A Converting Spectral Irradiance to Lux 287 Appendix B Calculating the Absorbance Spectrum of a Visual Pigment 290 Appendix C?Refractive Indices of Common Substances 292 Appendix D Optical Properties of Very Clear Water 293 Appendix E?Optical Properties of Natural Waters 295 Appendix F?Useful Formulas 297 Appendix G Equipment and Software Suppliers 302 Bibliography 307 Index 319