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Science concerned with the production and propagation of light, the changes it undergoes and produces, and closely related phenomena. Physical optics deals with the nature and properties of light; geometric optics deals with the formation of images by mirrors, lenses, and other devices that use light. Optical data processing involves manipulation of the information content of an image formed by coherent (one-wavelength) optical systems. The study of optics has led to the development of devices such as eyeglasses and contact lenses, telescopes, microscopes, cameras, binoculars, lasers, and optical fibres (seefibre optics).
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on optics, visit Britannica.com.