How a Simple Light Can Help You See the Strength Of an Object

Hint: it's because of a little thing called birefringence.

YouTuber The Action Lab often brings us interesting and exhilarating science experiments. You may remember this episode when he made a laser microscope using just a drop of water or this time when he made a black mirror.

This time the intrepid scientist is back and he is illustrating how a simple light can help you see the strength of an object.

"In this video, I talk about birefringence and double refraction. I show you how polarized light can be used to see the stress locations inside of anisotropic materials," explains the YouTuber in his video description.

If you're like us you are probably wondering what a few of these terms mean. Not to worry, The Action Lab explains them all through illustrations which is always the best way to learn.


He begins by shinning his blue laser through a crystal. This results in a two-directional beam because the calcite, being an anisotropic material, splits the beam into two rays of different directions. These two rays also have different polarization: one is left polarized and one is right polarized.

What does he do next? Where do birefringence and double refraction come into play? What do all these terms mean? Make sure to watch this video to find out.

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