William Wolfe


William L. Wolfe Jr.,

Professor Emeritus of Optical Sciences, UA 

Thursday, February 27, 2020,

2:30 – 4:30 p.m.,

The Arizona Senior Academy Building

The world around us is full of interesting optical phenomena, from the enormous size of the universe with its vast numbers of stars and galaxies (why isn’t the night sky bright?) to the little mosquito that bites and irritates (how does it do that?). 

William Wolfe will help us to understand the enormous universe and all those stars as well as to understand the bluer skies in Arizona and our wonderful sunsets. Why are the skies bluer here than elsewhere, and why do our fabulous sunsets only occur with the right distribution of clouds? He will show how rainbows are formed and why they are where they are and only there, including the primary, secondary, tertiary and even the supernumerary bows and “sundogs.” We will get a look at global warming, an understanding of why dry roads appear wet, what a gravitational lens is, and why water and icebergs are blue. Additionally, we’ll get a scary look at how rattlesnakes track their prey, how mosquitos find us, and how we can keep them from doing that.  And finally, we will learn how hummingbirds flash their different colors at us from many different angles.

William L. Wolfe, Jr. received his BS in physics from Bucknell University and master’s degrees in physics and electrical engineering from the University of Michigan. He worked at the University of Michigan and at Honeywell before coming to the University of Arizona. Wolfe was on the faculty of the James C. Wyant College of Optical Sciences for 25 years and has been Professor Emeritus since then. He has been practicing optics for more than 60 years.

Written by Carol and Donald Gilzinger, Academy Village Volunteers

Feb. 27: “Optics in Nature”