Light Polarization Creates Art, Explains Mathematical Concepts

In the American Journal of Physics, Aaron Slepkov from Trent University explores the physics of how polarization-filtered colors emerge, how they can be controlled, and why subtle changes in viewing angle, sample orientation, and the order of layers of films between polarizers can have dramatic effects on the observed colors. The research emphasizes visual examples of concepts related to birefringence, such as addition, subtraction, and order-of-operations.

Study Illustrates Nuances of Gravitational Pull of Ice Sheets

When a large ice sheet begins to melt, global-mean sea level rises, but local sea level near the ice sheet may in fact drop. In American Journal of Physics, a researcher illustrates this effect through a series of calculations, beginning with a simple, analytically tractable model and progressing through more sophisticated mathematical estimations of ice distributions and gravitation of displaced seawater mass. The paper includes numerical results for sea level change resulting from a 1,000-gigatonne loss of ice, with parameter values appropriate to the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets.