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

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21
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
18
votes
3answers
2k 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 is related to the permeability and the permittivity of the material. But this is not what I'm interested ...
21
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
4
votes
6answers
3k views

Do photons have acceleration?

Photons travels with the largest speed in our universe, the speed of light. Do photons have acceleration?
19
votes
2answers
3k 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 ...
14
votes
7answers
10k 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
40k 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
2answers
823 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
281 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
142 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?
13
votes
2answers
5k 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 ...
5
votes
5answers
3k 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
1k 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
564 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
434 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
2answers
539 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.
1
vote
1answer
797 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
792 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. ...
6
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
167 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 ...
7
votes
4answers
5k 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
3k 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
225 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 ...
4
votes
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?
2
votes
0answers
320 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
965 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 ...
2
votes
3answers
5k views

Clarification needed in the concept of apparent depth & real depth

I understood the concept of apparent depth from here: But one thing I didn't understand is, will there be difference in the real depth and apparent depth when we are looking not at an angle as ...
2
votes
1answer
522 views

Snell's Law of Refraction

I was told that "Snell's law of refraction implies that a light ray in an isotropic medium travels from point a to point b in stationary time." Why is this true? Thanks.
2
votes
1answer
150 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
479 views

Why does light not refract when incidented perpendicularly?

I had read that light does slow down in glass because photons interact with atoms in glass. They are absorbed and re-emitted and during this phenomenon it's speed decreases. See also this and this ...
1
vote
3answers
2k 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
1answer
36 views

Evaluating angle of refraction [closed]

Can someone show me how to evaluate the angle of refraction for white light where the angle of incidence is 30 degrees if medium A is air and medium B is water. The answer is 22 degrees. I don't know ...