Change in the direction of propagation of a wave when its transmitting medium changes.

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30
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4answers
3k views

What really cause light/photons to appear slower in media?

I know that if we solve the Maxwell equation, we will end up with the phase velocity of light being related to the permeability and the permittivity of the material. But this is not what I'm ...
27
votes
4answers
3k views

What is the mechanism behind the slowdown of light/photons in a transparent medium?

So light travels slower in glass (for example) than in a vacuum. What causes light to slow down? Or: How does it slow down? If light passes through the medium, is it not essentially traveling in the ...
25
votes
4answers
5k views

Why do prisms work (why is refraction frequency dependent)?

It is well known that a prism can "split light" by separating different frequencies of light: Many sources state that the reason this happens is that the index of refraction is different for ...
5
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6answers
4k views

Do photons have acceleration?

Photons travel at the fastest speed in our universe, the speed of light. Do photons have acceleration?
23
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2answers
4k views

How are classical optics phenomena explained in QED (Snell's law)?

How is the following classical optics phenomenon explained in quantum electrodynamics? Reflection and Refraction Are they simply due to photons being absorbed and re-emitted? How do we get to ...
20
votes
8answers
19k views

What determines color — wavelength or frequency?

What determines the color of light -- is it the wavelength of the light or the frequency? (i.e. If you put light through a medium other than air, in order to keep its color the same, which one would ...
26
votes
3answers
3k views

How does light speed up after coming out of a glass slab?

As I learned today in School, my teacher told me that when light enters a Glass Slab it slows down due to the change in density and it speeds up as it goes out of the Glass Slab. This causes a lateral ...
6
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6answers
4k views

Is it possible to witness a circular rainbow?

What conditions would make it possible to see a naturally occurring fully 360° circular rainbow? Would it even be possible?
13
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4answers
2k views

Looking for the actual reason of refraction explained precisely without analogies

I'm a high school teacher trying to teach my students (15year olds) about refraction. I've seen a lot of good analogies to explain why the light changes direction, like the marching band analogy, that ...
10
votes
3answers
67k views

Why does wavelength change as light enters a different medium?

When light waves enter a medium of higher refractive index than the previous, why is it that: Its wavelength decreases? The frequency of it has to stay the same?
7
votes
3answers
2k views

Does light change color on its way through a window? [duplicate]

Looking at the refractive index of glass, it's around $1.6$. Then the speed of light $x$ through light should be given by $$ 1.6 = \frac{3.0\times10^8}{x}, $$ so $x$ is about ...
10
votes
5answers
23k views

Why frequency doesn't change during refraction?

When light goes through one medium to another it's velocity and wavelength changes. Why frequency doesn't change in this phenomenon?
1
vote
2answers
88 views

Why does electromagnetic refraction happen?

Why does refraction happen? In high school textbooks, it is stated that it happens because the speed that electromagnetic waves propagate in the media change. But why cant they continue propagating in ...
5
votes
5answers
5k views

How to bend light?

As we all know that light travels in rectilinear motion. But can we bend light in parabolic path? If not practically then is it possible in paper? Has anyone succeeded in doing that practically ?
2
votes
1answer
900 views

How does a one-sided glass work?

How does a one-sided glass work? If seen from the outer side, we can see through thinking it is transparent, while if seen from the inside, the glass acts as a mirror. How?
2
votes
3answers
184 views

What really makes a rainbow happen?

Yes, a rainbow is formed when a raindrop refracts light, but why then does the whole sky not become a huge rainbow when it rains? Would the light not be dispersed into ordinary 'white' light? What ...
0
votes
2answers
276 views

Why the light bent towards the normal when they pass from rarer medium to denser medium?

Whenever the light rays are entering the rarer to denser medium they bend toward the normal. Then why the rays choose the path toward the normal? Why it cannot choose the path away form the normal?
13
votes
3answers
7k views

How does a photon travel through glass?

This was discussed in an answer to a related question but I think that it deserves a separate and, hopefully, more clear answer. Consider a single photon ($\lambda$=532 nm) traveling through a plate ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

Photon energy - momentum in matter

$E = h\nu$ and $P = h\nu/c$ in vacuum. If a photon enters water, it's frequency $\nu$ doesn't change. What are its energy and momentum : $h\nu$ ? and $h\nu/c$ ? Since part of it's energy and momentum ...
2
votes
3answers
351 views

How Does $\epsilon$ Relate to the Dampened Harmonic Motion of Electrons?

I realize that the permittivity $\epsilon$ of a substance is easily calculated based on diffraction angles, but I am not satisfied with merely measuring it experimentally. I wish to understand its ...
1
vote
1answer
1k views

What do physicists mean when they say “speed of light”?

Does it make sense to say, "The speed of light varies?" Some may say right off the bat "Yes, it changes as a wave passes through a different medium." However, I'd like to say no, because when I hear ...
35
votes
4answers
4k views

Do rainbows have ultraviolet bands and infrared bands?

We have seen that rainbows looks so colorful as we are only able to see only the visible light. But Do they also have ultraviolet bands and infra-red bands, that we are unable to see? I know someone ...
7
votes
4answers
6k views

Eyes open under water

Yesterday I looked underwater with my eyes open (and no goggles) and I realized I can't see anything clearly. Everything looks very, very blurry. My guess is that the eye needs direct contact with air ...
0
votes
2answers
93 views

Why phase velocity is related to deflection angle?

Refractive index is a function of velocity in the medium.How is this related to deviation angle inside the medium?
4
votes
1answer
1k views

why does the optical media have different refractive indices?

Optical density is a measure of the refracting power of a medium. In other words, the higher the optical density, the more the light will be refracted or slowed down as it moves through the medium. ...
2
votes
1answer
3k views

Analytic solution for angle of minimum deviation?

Consider a simple prism with a prism angle $A$, angle of incidence $\theta_1$, angle of emergence $\theta_4$ and the first and second angle of refraction as $\theta_2,\theta_3$. the refractive index ...
2
votes
1answer
805 views

Is it possible to increase refractive index at lower densities?

Are there any materials for which the refractive index decreases with density? It seems that for most materials we would expect there to be a positive correlation between density and refractive index, ...
2
votes
3answers
826 views

Difference in velocity of light in change in medium [duplicate]

It is often seen that according to physics the light changes it's velocity according to the medium through which it is traveling. So can it be explained that why so happen?
1
vote
1answer
2k views

What causes refraction of visible light? [duplicate]

Refraction is the bending of a wave when it enters a medium where its speed is different. The refraction of light when it passes from a fast medium to a slow medium bends the light ray toward the ...
1
vote
2answers
1k views

Refraction of light and frequency dependence

Why do higher frequency waves refract more, both ocean waves and light waves? Also why is energy stored in the frequency as opposed to the wavelength.
0
votes
1answer
79 views

Determining the path of a light ray

Let's consider a ray in the plane $xy$. Let the refractive index be defined in any point of the plane with the function $n(x,y)$. In time $t=0$ the ray is located in coordinates $(x_0, y_0)$ and its ...
6
votes
3answers
4k views

How can I determine transmission/reflection coefficients for light?

When light rays reflect off a boundary between two materials with different indices of refraction, a lot of the sources I've seen (recently) don't discuss the relation between the amplitude (or ...
13
votes
7answers
6k views

Why does light change direction when it travels through glass?

This was explained to me many years ago, by a physics teacher, with the following analogy: "If someone on the beach wants to reach someone else that is in the water, they will try to travel as much ...
12
votes
3answers
987 views

Can the speed of light become complex inside a metamaterial?

The speed of light in a material is defined as $c = \frac{1}{\sqrt{\epsilon \mu}}$. There are metamaterials with negative permittivity $\epsilon < 0$ and permeability $\mu < 0$ at the same time. ...
10
votes
1answer
155 views

How would a fractal refract light?

A fanciful Pink Floyd reference has led me to wonder what white light passing through an object with an infinitely complex surface would do. Would it exit from a single chaotically-chosen point on the ...
12
votes
2answers
3k views

Is true black possible?

Black is the absence of light because it absorbs light, but when we create black paint or black objects, light is always reflected, either in all directions in matte or smoothly in shiny black ...
9
votes
2answers
241 views

Which of these theories on why light slows in media are true?

This question is similar to previously asked questions, but the responses to them are confusing and I think it may be better covered by listing out all the potential answers for clarity. It's a ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

Why would an object appear a different size when in water?

A friend of mine has a homework question and we're having some trouble figuring out what physical mechanisms come into play for this. An underwater swimmer sees a spherical air bubble that appears ...
7
votes
3answers
768 views

How can a particle in a medium ever travel faster than light? [duplicate]

In some media, mass-carrying particles can go faster than light: Cherenkov radiation, ... is electromagnetic radiation emitted when a charged particle... passes through a dielectric medium at a ...
5
votes
3answers
5k views

Can anyone explain to me why light is not dispersed into a spectrum through a parallel glass slide, but only through a prism?

The question pretty much sums up what I need to know. Why is it that light only gets dispersed into a spectrum when travelling through two non-parallel sides(like a prism) and not through something ...
4
votes
2answers
296 views

Shape of the rainbow

I have watched Walter Lewin's lecture(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QVbE_tU2sA) which was about the rainbows. But there is still a question bothering me. I understood the first part of the ...
3
votes
2answers
312 views

Why can't we reach the ends of rainbow?

Rainbows are spectacular things. But I imagine why we can't reach to the ends of rainbows. Do rainbows have no ends ? If so, why can't we reach at them? If you go closer,they will go further. Why?
2
votes
0answers
440 views

Nonlinear refraction index of vacuum above Schwinger limit

This question is more about trying to feel the waters in our current abilities to compute (or roughly estimate) the refraction index of vacuum, specifically when high numbers of electromagnetic quanta ...
2
votes
1answer
192 views

Reflected and refracted wave sphased

When we derive refraction and reflection laws for a generical plane wave on a surface, we say that reflected and refracted must be in phase with the incident wave. Why a medium cannot do a sphased ...
1
vote
2answers
46 views

How is light trajectory affected by the trajectory of environment it passes through?

There's a sci-fi concept of slow light that I find very amazing: Imagine a glass material that has index of refraction $n$ say, $3,000,000,000$ which means: $$v_{glass} = \frac{c_{vacuum}}{n} = ...
1
vote
2answers
344 views

Can we get the refractive index of a prism by using white light?

Can we get the refractive index of a prism by using white light ? I guess since white light is non chromatic, it is not possible.
9
votes
2answers
1k views

Why do mirages only appear on hot days?

A previous question asked why the road sometimes appears wet on hot days. The reason is that when there's a temperature gradient in the air, it causes a gradient in the index of refraction, causing ...
3
votes
1answer
113 views

Rainbows at other wavelengths

I'm curious as to whether or not it is possible to have a rainbow at wavelengths other than visible light. I'm familiar with Snell's refraction law and why it is that they occur, but now what about ...
3
votes
4answers
4k views

Why does change in speed of a wave make it refract?

When a light wave enters a medium with a higher refractive index (e.g. from air to standard glass) and its speed decreases, why does that make it refract/bend? I understand that wavelength decreases ...
2
votes
3answers
754 views

What “exactly” happens when a ray is incident at the critical angle?

The question arose when my physics teacher taught me geometrical optics and told that the phenomenon of both refraction and $reflection$ occur by change in medium. First of all, I'm not sure about the ...