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Comments

Terrific and enlightening article as always, Di. How about covering circular polarization? It's the primary technique used for 3D movies in the theaters and could use some thoughtful explanation.

Gems and minerals are amazing and can create so much pleasure. I really enjoyed your article and hope that more people get involved with gemstones.
I am not an "expert" in any sense of the word, but I did enough jewelry as a hobby that I decided to share some pieces with everyone that may be interested. My new website is at http://www.rockhoundgemstones.com A lot of my pieces are made with beaded gemstones, but many are made from the rough. We go rockhounding to gather the rocks/gems that we use in our jewelry. It is so interesting and it is just unbeliveable how many beautiful stones that Mother Nature has given us to enjoy. We are in our 60's and are still very active in rock hunting and making jewelry. I hope some of you will go to my site and browse through the products and leave a message on my blog page. I am still learning more everyday, so leave suggestions and ideas to help. Hope to hear from you soon!

Great article, and I have enjoyed your posts a lot in the past.

However, in this post there's one glaring factual mistake: "A beam of unpolarized sunlight can be so bright that it's blinding. Polarized sunglasses block the light waves that aren't oriented in the direction selected by the lens. You're sampling a fraction of the light, so you get all the information, but without all the intensity."

This would not help glare so much alone. The reason for polarizing sunglasses is that most of the glare from, e.g., a shiny road surface, is polarized horizontally. For example, circularly polarizing sunglasses would *not* help at all.

See http://www.polarization.com/water/water.html

Erm...I know you're talking about Iolite, but being a denizen of the internet as I am, I couldn't help reading it as Lolite at first glance. That would be a pretty awesome mineral.

LOLite! That sounds like something we need to invent! But what would be in it? Lithium - Iron? Lanthanum-Silver-Fluorine?

Thank you ever so much for introducing me to possibly the most dangerous website ever! :-) My wallet hates you, but my wife will never be short of pressies again.

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The thing that still freaks me out about polarization is take the example above with two polarizers set at 90 degrees to each other: no light passes. Now put another polarizer in between at a 45 degree angle to both. Light once again can pass. Quantum mechanics is a bitch! The 60 Symbols video series has a good video on plane polarization: http://bit.ly/hE6oaG

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    Physics Cocktails

    • Heavy G
      The perfect pick-me-up when gravity gets you down.
      2 oz Tequila
      2 oz Triple sec
      2 oz Rose's sweetened lime juice
      7-Up or Sprite
      Mix tequila, triple sec and lime juice in a shaker and pour into a margarita glass. (Salted rim and ice are optional.) Top off with 7-Up/Sprite and let the weight of the world lift off your shoulders.
    • Listening to the Drums of Feynman
      The perfect nightcap after a long day struggling with QED equations.
      1 oz dark rum
      1/2 oz light rum
      1 oz Tia Maria
      2 oz light cream
      Crushed ice
      1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
      In a shaker half-filled with ice, combine the dark and light rum, Tia Maria, and cream. Shake well. Strain into an old fashioned glass almost filled with crushed ice. Dust with the nutmeg, and serve. Bongos optional.
    • Combustible Edison
      Electrify your friends with amazing pyrotechnics!
      2 oz brandy
      1 oz Campari
      1 oz fresh lemon juice
      Combine Campari and lemon juice in shaker filled with cracked ice. Shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Heat brandy in chafing dish, then ignite and pour into glass. Cocktail Go BOOM! Plus, Fire = Pretty!
    • Hiroshima Bomber
      Dr. Strangelove's drink of choice.
      3/4 Triple sec
      1/4 oz Bailey's Irish Cream
      2-3 drops Grenadine
      Fill shot glass 3/4 with Triple Sec. Layer Bailey's on top. Drop Grenadine in center of shot; it should billow up like a mushroom cloud. Remember to "duck and cover."
    • Mad Scientist
      Any mad scientist will tell you that flames make drinking more fun. What good is science if no one gets hurt?
      1 oz Midori melon liqueur
      1-1/2 oz sour mix
      1 splash soda water
      151 proof rum
      Mix melon liqueur, sour mix and soda water with ice in shaker. Shake and strain into martini glass. Top with rum and ignite. Try to take over the world.
    • Laser Beam
      Warning: may result in amplified stimulated emission.
      1 oz Southern Comfort
      1/2 oz Amaretto
      1/2 oz sloe gin
      1/2 oz vodka
      1/2 oz Triple sec
      7 oz orange juice
      Combine all liquor in a full glass of ice. Shake well. Garnish with orange and cherry. Serve to attractive target of choice.
    • Quantum Theory
      Guaranteed to collapse your wave function:
      3/4 oz Rum
      1/2 oz Strega
      1/4 oz Grand Marnier
      2 oz Pineapple juice
      Fill with Sweet and sour
      Pour rum, strega and Grand Marnier into a collins glass. Add pineapple and fill with sweet and sour. Sip until all the day's super-positioned states disappear.
    • The Black Hole
      So called because after one of these, you have already passed the event horizon of inebriation.
      1 oz. Kahlua
      1 oz. vodka
      .5 oz. Cointreau or Triple Sec
      .5 oz. dark rum
      .5 oz. Amaretto
      Pour into an old-fashioned glass over (scant) ice. Stir gently. Watch time slow.