Popular Optics Review

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POPULAR OPTICS by Sam Brown, Edmund Scientific Company, Barrington, New Jersey, 1974.

“This book is a reprint from several smaller booklets published by Edmund Scientific Co. during the past fifteen years. Most of the standard optics specified are currently available, but some military surplus items are long gone. Where practical a substitute lens has been mentioned - in all cases the current Edmund catalog is your guide.” From the contents page.

It’s 30+ years later, but still some of the same optics are available. And there still is a need for a real how-to book on building simple optical devices like overhead projectors, opaque projectors, telescopes, collimators, magnifiers, etc.

One of the great features of this book are its formulae. They take the Simple Lens Formula and break it into all its permutations. For instance, if you know the object distance and focal length for an imaging scenario, you can find the magnification by looking up the appropriate formula and plugging and chugging. They also give examples of practical calculations for all formulae, using whole numbers so that it is easy to see the math in action.

I haven’t seen it in the Edmund catalog recently, but who knows if there isn’t a box of them in a store room in New Jersey. $12.95 last list price, but the same information is found in books costing far more! And not as interestingly illustrated!

-Ed Wesly