When my mother once asked me why I wanted to go to MIT I answered that I wanted to find out how everything in the world worked. I am still learning how things work and I am still enjoying the search.

Through the years I have have been asked great questions by many friends, most of whom are high school physics teachers. Some of these questions come from the teachers, others come from their students. Either way I feel privileged to receive questions. Each question is a valued treasure. On these pages I will present some of the attempts I have made to answer these questions. I have learned a lot in the process of writing these answers and I am always ready to learn more if others have comments.

You can always find answers to these questions using mathematics in physics textbooks. My goal is to provide answers which are not wrong and which guide people to understand a little better. I try to answer with words and drawings and images but lurking behind my answers is the mathematical description of nature.

Atmospheric Optics

Explore the origin of light and color in the sky.

Atmospheric Optics


Explore the origin of lift forces on an airplane wing



Why is the sky blue?

Why are clouds white?

Why is water blue? Why is it not?

Why is ice blue?

Why is the sky bright?


Metric Activities

Metric Prefixes

There are some funny ones here.

If there were a zepto Marx brother how much of a Marx brother would there be?

Guide to Metric prefixes

and a fun quiz!

Paul's Homepage

Scientific Explorations with Paul Doherty

© 1999

4 Apr 99