Saturday, March 16, 2013
Testing depolarizers with The Scientific Method
A couple of days ago, I spent a while using the linearly-polarized laptop screen as a light source to test how well an optic can depolarize light. The first optic closest to the screen is a polarizer, and it's rotated to let through the maximum LCD light, while rejecting anything that isn't quite polarized in the right direction. The second one on a stand is the depolarizer. The one in my hand is an extra polarizer. I was rotating it to see whether the light was still polarized after going through the depolarizer or not. It wasn't. That was good news. That means the depolarizer is useful in the lidar during test lamp measurements (which we did day-before-yesterday).
This was also the first time in a long time that I've consciously used The Scientific Method As Taught In Grade Seven. I had a hypothesis, set up a controlled experiment, observed, etc. My science usually isn't exactly a lab science, where you can give various quantities of something to rats, and leave the other rats alone as control cases. I can't order the atmosphere to give me lovely test cases of precisely known amounts of ice and water in the sky, exactly when I want them. I more or less have to work with what the sky comes up with. Testing the depolarizing optic, though? Man, was that cooperative. For once, I didn't even have to worry about how windy it was outside, in order to get something done.