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Why are candle flames yellow? Why does ultraviolet light supposedly kill vampires? What about the monocle? Why was the monocle--a corrective lens that only corrects vision in a single eye--so popular among businessmen and politicians for so many years? Stephen R. Wilk answers all this and so much more in Sandbows and Black Lights. This book is a collection of original essays on weird and unusual topics surrounding optics. Wilk uses the BBC's formula of Education by Stealth to explain unusual facets of science and technology through the matrix of interesting and cultural paths, all the while weaving in math equations in an accessible way. The first part of the book focuses on the history, the second moves to odd scientific approaches to visual phenomena, and the third part explains the unique use of optics in fiction, movies, and comic books over time. Chapters cover everything from endless corridors to the beam of light over treasure chests in movies. Whether he is explaining a rare discovery or answering a seemingly unapproachable question, Wilk is able to lure readers in on every page. He has a unique ability to turn complex science into an engaging story, and this book is full of narratives on esoteric topics anyone will find intriguing. Sandbows and Black Lights provides an enticing and entertaining look at physical illusions in a whole new way.
About the Author
Stephen R. Wilk is an optical engineer and project manager at XENON Corporation. He has worked at research labs and small optics firms in the Greater Boston area for many years, and he has written nonfiction books and articles relating to physics, optics, general science, history, mythology, and popular culture. Wilk is perpetually intrigued by the unusual, and he has written about the physics of karate, the trial of an 18th century Lenape Sachem, edible optics, and the inventor of the black light. In addition to his work as a physicist and engineer, he has published several works of genre fiction.