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The word caustics has several meanings depending upon the context in which it is used:

  • In optics, a caustic is a bundle of light rays. For example a caustic effect may be seen when light refracts or reflects through some refractive or reflective material, to create a more focused, stronger light on the final location. Such amplification, especially of sunlight, can burn -- hence the name. A common situation when caustics are visible is when some light points on glass. There is a shadow behind the glass, but also there is a stronger light spot. Nowadays, almost every advanced rendering system supports caustics. Some of them even support volumetric caustics. This is accomplished by raytracing the possible paths of the light beam through the glass, accounting for the refraction, reflection, etc. Reference: Max Born and Emil Wolf, Optics.
Last updated: 08-31-2005 19:07:41