Wine Glass Lensing

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Wine glasses provide a suggestive analog for gravitational and optical lensing effects [1]. This Demonstration uses a wine glass to explore some of the visual parameters defined in [1]. Some selected parameter combinations can simulate various lens effects. Transitions between lens-like and non-lens-like states can display interesting patterns. The left panel shows the wine glass viewed from a non-orthographic perspective, while the right panel shows the flat projection of the wine glass base.

Contributed by: Alexandra L. Brosius (January 2021)
Open content licensed under CC BY-NC-SA



The wine glass in this Demonstration has a wire-like stem whose shape is determined by parameters in nested cosine functions. The outermost is the coarse parameter, the intermediate is the ratio of the medium parameter to the coarse parameter, and the innermost is the ratio of the fine parameter to the coarse parameter. The plot is intended to be qualitative, so as to exhibit the logic and aesthetics of the illustrations.

This Demonstration was inspired by Sherry H. Suyu's Lancelot M. Berkeley Prize plenary lecture [2]. Reference [1] contains helpful background information about gravitational lensing.


[1]. A. Hume and J. Guzik. "Gravitational Lensing by a Point Mass" from the Wolfram Demonstrations Project—A Wolfram Web Resource.

[2]. S. H. Suyu. "H0LiCOW! Cosmology with Gravitational Lens Time Delays." 237th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society, Jan 11–15, 2021.!/9243/session/208.

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