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Physics/optics and radiowaves


Hi Steve!

  I have a question about sunlight and waves.  I have a small heliostat (a machine that tracks, and then redirects sunlight to a set target throughout the day) and I want to mount a larger reflective mirror on it.  The problem is that my machine is small, and won't take heavy large surfaced mirrors, especially when it gets windy.  I was wondering if you've heard of anyone doing, or if it possible to reflect visible sunlight and ir radiation by somehow bouncing it off a "sheet" of radiowaves.  I've heard that engine noise from airplanes is canceled out by playing the opposite frequency as the engines themselves, so I wouldn't think that bouncing light using waves would be impossible.  Unfortunately, I haven't found any information on this subject, so here I am writing to you.  If you can shed any light (pun intended) on this subject, it would be greatly appreciated!  Thanks,


No, this is outside the laws of known physics to do in any practical way.  Your best bet is to go with a lighter substance (like a frame with aluminized mylar over it) and build a greenhouse-like housing out of clear plastic or something like that to lower the wind effects.


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Dr. Stephen O. Nelson


I can answer most basic physics questions, physics questions about science fiction and everyday observations of physics, etc. I'm also usually good for science fair advice (I'm the regional science fair director). I do not answer homework problems. I will occasionally point out where a homework solution went wrong, though. I'm usually good at explaining odd observations that seem counterintuitive, energy science, nuclear physics, nuclear astrophysics, and alternative theories of physics are my specialties.


I was a physics professor at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, research in nuclear technology and nuclear astrophysics. My travelling science show saw over 20,000 students of all ages. I taught physics, nuclear chemistry, radiation safety, vacuum technology, and answer tons of questions as I tour schools encouraging students to consider careers in science. I moved on to a non-academic job with more research just recently.

Ph. D. from Duke University in physics, research in nuclear astrophysics reactions, gamma-ray astronomy technology, and advanced nuclear reactors.

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