Feature Articles

Spy in the Sky: The KH-9 Hexagon

The United States’ KH-9 Hexagon was arguably the most complicated film-based reconnaissance satellite ever put into orbit. Nearly a quarter century after its final launch, camera-designer Phil Pressel shares the no-longer-top-secret details of the mission.

by Phil Pressel
Optical Standoff Detection: Eliminating Threats at a Distance

Chemical and explosive warfare has grown increasingly sophisticated with the decades. Researchers are exploring high-tech optical methods to detect threats at a safe distance—but their battle has just begun.

by Lynn Savage
Bohr, Heisenberg and the Atomic Bomb

The relationship between Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg was irrevocably changed by the Second World War. Their story highlights the ethical complexities—and heavy burdens—that can come with being a scientist.

by Danuta Bukowska and Sylwia Maliszewska
The Mystery of the Birefringent Butterfly

The crown jewel of a collection of classroom materials at the University of Arizona’s College of Optical Sciences is a transparent butterfly slide that bursts into color when viewed through cross polarizers. Who is responsible for this striking work of art?

by Russell Chipman and Alba Peinado

Departments and Columns


Headliners, policy news and industry updates.

The Challenges of Addressing Minorities in a Majority Culture

Elsa Garmire begins a dialogue about how to strengthen the optics community by learning to understand—and embrace—our differences.

Career Focus
How to Work More Efficiently

Jean-luc Doumont provides a framework for making the best use of your limited time.

Conversations in Optics
What Sparks Your Creativity?

Optics & Photonics News asked this year’s Frontiers in Optics (FiO) plenary speakers to talk about what makes them tick. FiO will take place 6–9 October in Orlando, Fla., U.S.A.

Optical Engineering
Indirect Lighting in 3-D Video Games

Game designers have devised an ingenious algorithm to reproduce indirect lighting effects in virtual 3-D environments. Ke Xu describes the reflective shadow map.

Global Optics
Optics at Shenzhen University

Confucius asks, “When you have friends coming from afar, don’t you feel delighted?” For 30 years, China’s Shenzhen University (SZU) has been welcoming friends by developing global partnerships and educating students in applied optics and optical engineering.


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President's Message
President's Message

Member News
Member News