PHY 112: Light, Color and Vision

An introduction to the modern understanding of light, color, and vision, primarily for non-science majors and especially beneficial to students majoring in visual arts or theatre. Topics include the nature of light; the human eye and vision; illusions, color perception, and color theory; optical instruments; the camera and photography; optical phenomena in the atmosphere (mirages, rainbows, halos); and light in modern physics (relativity, lasers). Not for major credit.



PHY 112 is a three credit course. There will be homework, two in-class midterms, and an in-class final.

  1. Class Meetings: TT 12:50pm to 2:10pm in Physics P-113. The lecture plan and reading assignments can be found on the course schedule. The lecture notes will not be made available.

  2. Homework: Homework assignments are due at the beginning of class on Tuesdays after which there is a 50% penalty. Late homework will not be accepted after the end of class on Thursday. I expect that students will collaborate on their homework, but encourage you to do your own work.

  3. Midterms: The first Midterm is Thursday, March 4, 2010. The second midterm is Thursday, April 15, 2010. Midterms will take place in the usual class room.

  4. Final: Thursday, 13 May 2009 from 5:15pm to 7:45pm

  5. Grading: Homework 20%, Midterms 40% and Final 40%.


Seeing the Light, Falk, Brill, and Stork, Wiley (1986)

Contact Information

Prof. Clark McGrew




Physics D-134


T.A. Francis Paraan

Physics D-116

Monday 2-3

Tuesday 10-11


The exams will cover the book sections indicated in the course schedule. Each exam will be cumulative in the sense that you will be responsible for information covered in previous exams. However, the second midterm will focus primarily on information covered after the first midterm, and the final exam will have some emphasis on material covered after the second midterm, although the whole course will be covered.

The exams will emphasis basic principles over memorization, but will be closed book.

You should bring a pen/pencil and a hand-held calculator capable of doing simple arithmetic and trigonometric functions to the exam. Replacement calculators will not be provided, and you may not share a calculator during an exam. If your calculator does not work or you forgot to bring one you will have to complete the exam with out using a calculator. I may check you identification during each exam. You must bring a photo ID to the exams. Acceptable IDs: Stony Brook student ID, driver's license, green card/passport, etc.

Notebooks computers or hand-held devices with more than 2Mb of memory, devices with infrared ports or any other communication options (beepers, cell phones, buzzers, etc.) are not allowed. If you have a question about a particular calculator, ask.

I expect no communication between students on the exams. Any evidence of cheating will be reported to the academic hearing officer and will also result in a stiff grade penalty. Leaving the exam room is by permission only. The text of the exam may not leave the room before the exam is over. (After the exam is over you are encouraged to take home the text and review it.)

Absences, make-ups

If you know in advance that you cannot take a midterm (scheduled medical procedure, etc.), let me know at least 9 days before the exam (i.e. on the Tuesday the week before a Thursday exam). A make-up exam will be arranged for you one week before the regular exam time, covering the same material as the regular exam. No make-up exams will be offered for unexpected absences.


I make mistakes, and want to give you an opportunity to help me to correct them. The graded exams will be returned to you following the exam date. The solutions to the exam problems will be discussed during the same session. You may want to make notes on your exam during the discussion. You should use a writing instrument that is markedly different from the pen/pencil used during the exam. It must be emphasized, any marks made on the exam after it has been returned must be made in a clearly different pen/pencil. If an exam is returned for regrading with modifications that are not clearly indicated it could be counted as cheating and dealt with appropriately

Web Page Addresses Check out this page from time to time for course announcements, grades etc.

Required Statements

Americans with Disabilities Act:

If you have a physical, psychological, medical, or learning disability that may affect your course work, please contact Disability Support Services at (631) 632-6748 or They will determine with you what accommodations are necessary and appropriate. All information and documentation is confidential. Students who require assistance during emergency evacuation are encouraged to discuss their needs with their professors and Disability Support Services. For procedures and information go to the following website:

Academic Integrity:

Each student must pursue his or her academic goals honestly and be personally accountable for all submitted work. Representing another person’s work as your own is always wrong. Faculty are required to report any suspected instances of academic dishonesty to the Academic Judiciary. Faculty in the Health Sciences Center (School of Health Technology and Management, Nursing, Social Welfare, Dental Medicine) and School of Medicine are required to follow their school-specific procedures. For more comprehensive information on academic integrity, including categories of academic dishonesty, please refer to the academic judiciary website at

Critical Incident Management:

Stony Brook University expects students to respect the rights, privileges, and property of other people. Faculty are required to report to the Office of Judicial Affairs any disruptive behavior that interrupts their ability to teach, compromises the safety of the learning environment, or inhibits students’ ability to learn. Faculty in the HSC Schools and the School of Medicine are required to follow their school-specific procedures.

Clark McGrew (