Space Explorers

Our ability to see detail is determined by many factors. Last week we learned how to understand and define image resolution. In addition, our eyes are able to discern only so much visual information, beyond which no more detail is visible.

In this laboratory, we will calculate the apparent physical size of an object, smaller than which no more detail is visible. By creating a closely-spaced repetitive pattern on the blackboard at the level of the students eye-level, for example parallel lines of chalk, students are able to walk backwards from the board until the lines blend together and there is no apparent space between the lines.

The spacing between the lines can be measured with a ruler, and the distance to the student from the blackboard with a tape measure. The minimum angle that will give detail follows from a right-triangle trigonometric calculation: angle/2 ~ line spacing/distance to blackboard. We will compare the class's calculated values with those of other animals and make estimations of how large objects are based on their apparent size.

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