Experiment with light yourself!

30 October 2021 |

Change the direction of light without a mirror? Separating a light source into different colors? Or discover why the sky is blue, the sun yellow and the clouds white? At the time of the Ghent Light Festival, Professor Philippe Smet explains how you can play with light yourself!

Especially for all curious children and their parents, light professor Philippe Smet (Faculty of Science, Department of Solid-State Sciences) has jumped into his lab with a camera crew. What was the result? Three tantalizing experiments that you can do yourself.

How can you make light change direction?

Philippe shows you how you can trap a beam of light from a laser pointer or a bicycle lamp in a simple jet of water. If you succeed, then you will understand how light travels in the glass fiber cables used for high-speed internet and other things.

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How can you see which colors are present in light?

Make your own spectroscope from a simple cardboard tube and an old CD. Aim your spectroscope at a fluorescent lamp, an LED lamp, an old bulb or a fire and find out what colors these light sources are made of! Did you know that astronomers use just such a device - only a little bit more complicated - to analyze the light of stars and galaxies?

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Why is the sky blue and the clouds white?

In space, when you look at the sun, it looks white. Here on Earth, under the atmosphere, it is yellow, and even orange-red at night. The blue light is gone, scattered across the sky. With water, milk and a LED bicycle light we can recreate this effect ourselves!

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Want to know more?

Also discover Philippe’s facts about light: how we can grasp hold of light and make it, is there invisible light, and whether or not we can live without light, ... and more!

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Can you grasp hold of light and facts about light?

Professor Philippe Smet of Ghent University (Faculty of Science, Department of Solid-State Sciences) has been researching light for 20 years. So, he is the man to explain exactly what light is.


What is light? The answer depends on your perspective

A simple question, but one with a not so simple answer. Or, to be precise, no single answer. To a physicist, light has a very different meaning to, say, a philosopher. Three scientists shine their own light on light.