Polarised Pillar

Different geometric shapes, sizes and colours.
A large pilar display with different geometric shapes, sizes and colours. The pillar sits in a large foyer.

Polaroid filters block light.

How it works

Spin the outer sheath of the pillar and watch how the polarising filter blocks or filters light.

Things to try or ask around the exhibit

Why does this pillar go darker and brighter as it turns?


Light waves vibrate up and down, from side to side and at all angles. This is unpolarised light.

This pillar is lined with polarising filters. Polarising filters only allow light waves that vibrate in one direction to pass through. For example, one filter may allow light waves that vibrate up and down (vertically) to pass through, but not light waves that vibrate side to side (horizontally). If polarising filters cross over at certain angles, they block light waves vibrating in many different directions, so it looks darker.

Finding the science in your world

Polarising filters are used in Polaroid sunglasses to reduce sunlight’s glare.