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SPIE Professional April 2009

Seeds of Knowledge

Optipedia and a new SPIE Press book provide accessible information on optics.

By Beth Kelley

Accessible references and information on beginning and intermediate optics can be hard to come by, but SPIE is providing two new resources for educators, students, engineers, and anyone who needs to brush up on a topic.

Launched in 2008, Optipedia is an open-access (i.e., free) glimpse into the most popular books published by SPIE Press. Optipedia is an online collection of pages from Field Guides and other SPIE Press books with equations, definitions, and key concepts, providing an easily searchable online reference guide.

Key words are hyperlinked and connect to other pages within Optipedia, creating a potentially endless circuit of information.

University professors are already using Optipedia as a tool in their classes. William T. Rhodes, associate director of the Imaging Technology Center at Florida Atlantic University and the editor of the forthcoming journal SPIE Reviews, says he discovered its usefulness by sheer coincidence.

“The Optipedia announcement from SPIE arrived the morning I was seeking material for my optical engineering course. The announcement showed a diagram of the human eye from John Greivenkamp’s Field Guide to Geometrical Optics that contained focal length information I happened to need,” says Rhodes.

“Perhaps more significant, later in the day in a Google search, I found an image of a Keplerian telescope that was incorrectly identified as a Galilean telescope. My students suffer enough confusion without unchecked science on the Web adding to it.”

Don O’Shea, former Tutorial Text series editor, knows firsthand just how useful this material can be and believes that Optipedia is a great way to showcase this variety of knowledge to professional engineers and students.

“The items are written by a variety of authors, ensuring that the searcher is exposed to a wider number of teachers of optics than he or she could possibly encounter in a lifetime,” O’Shea says. “Because the choices are based on the researcher’s curiosity and not a teacher’s lecture, they will be more meaningful and memorable.”

Optipedia launched at spie.org/optipedia with more than 100 pages and is growing quickly. It will soon expand to include pages by SPIE course instructors written specifically for Optipedia. In the future, Optipedia will begin soliciting other contributors and include previews of upcoming books before they are published.

Lighter Side of Learning

A second SPIE resource is more light-hearted but provides just as definitive information.

The Lighter Side of Adaptive Optics, written by Robert Tyson, was published in January. This tongue-in-cheek look at adaptive optics has no equations or technical jargon, just basic concepts and a brief history about the subject.

It is meant for an introductory audience of undergraduates, or even family members of optics engineers as Tyson originally envisioned it.

However, “for people with a background in the science, it’s still a fun read,” according to Josh Cobb of Corning Tropel Corp. who reviewed the book.

Tyson, associate professor at the University of North Caroline, Charlotte, is a 25-year veteran in the field of adaptive optics. He has published several books, including the Principles of Adaptive Optics and Introduction to Adaptive Optics, and he is co-author of Field Guide to Adaptive Optics.

An SPIE Fellow, Tyson was a senior systems engineer with United Technologies Optical Systems from 1978 to 1987 and a senior scientist with Schafer Corp. until 1999. The Lighter Side of Adaptive Optics is the first book published in what will eventually become a new series of books for SPIE Press, joining the Field Guide, Tutorial Text, and Press Monograph series.

The book is $24 for SPIE members, $27 for non-members.

Optipedia Needs You

Take Optipedia for a spin and let SPIE know what you think.

The Optipedia team at spie.org/optipedia is looking for suggestions on what future topics to cover or if there are any gaps in the information provided.

Contact optipedia@spie.org and comment on what you see and would like to see.

Bright Idea?

Got an idea for a “Lighter” look at an optics or photonics topic? Submit your ideas to Timothy Lamkins at timl@spie.org.

Beth Kelley is an editor for SPIE.

DOI: 10.1117/2.4200904.12

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