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

learn more… | top users | synonyms

38
votes
4answers
5k 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 ...
30
votes
4answers
7k 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 "...
31
votes
4answers
8k 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
votes
6answers
6k views

Do photons have acceleration?

Photons travel at the fastest speed in our universe, the speed of light. Do photons have acceleration?
26
votes
2answers
5k 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 ...
27
votes
3answers
157k views

Virtual vs Real image

I'm doing magnification and lens in class currently, and I really don't get why virtual and real images are called what they are. A virtual image occurs the object is less than the focal length of ...
28
votes
10answers
32k 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 ...
31
votes
3answers
5k 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 ...
13
votes
3answers
101k 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?
14
votes
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 ...
16
votes
5answers
44k views

Why doesn't the frequency of light change during refraction?

When light passes from one medium to another its velocity and wavelength change. Why doesn't frequency change in this phenomenon?
10
votes
2answers
1k views

What happens if light/particles exceeded the speed of light for a particular medium

While the speed of light in vacuum is a universal constant ($c$), the speed at which light propagates in other materials/mediums may be less than $c$. This is obviously suggested by the fact that ...
6
votes
6answers
5k 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?
3
votes
1answer
2k 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?
14
votes
3answers
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 objects,...
8
votes
3answers
3k 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 $2\times10^8~\mathrm{m}~\...
1
vote
2answers
124 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 ...
3
votes
4answers
59k views

Why do diamonds shine?

I have always wondered why diamonds shine. Can anyone tell me why?
-1
votes
2answers
338 views

Does the speed of light have a range of speeds due to medium-dependency?

An EM particle-wave propagates in a vacuum at a constant speed $c$, independent of the source/receiver but dependent on most mediums it moves through. Since the vacuum is a medium, and if logically ...
2
votes
3answers
279 views

What makes a rainbow happen?

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 causes it ...
0
votes
3answers
3k 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?
15
votes
1answer
936 views

Why is everything not transparent? [duplicate]

There is a related question on this site here: Why glass is transparent? Which explains that glass is transparent because the atoms in glass have very large energy differences between energy levels ...
8
votes
2answers
2k 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
427 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 ...
21
votes
5answers
8k 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
3k views

Wavelength-dependent refractive index

I read in a book about optical fibers that the different spectral components of a light pulse transmitted in the fiber propagate with different velocities due to a wavelength dependent refractive ...
1
vote
1answer
472 views

Theoretically if you passed the speed of light in a medium, would there be a sonic boom equivalent?

I know that it is technically impossible to reach the speed of light in vacuum since the mass of the object travelling would reach infinity. However in a medium, would there be some sort of ...
2
votes
2answers
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 ...
1
vote
2answers
80 views

Refraction of light rays

My textbook says that the greater the refractive index of a medium, the lower the speed of a light ray passing through it. Seawater has a slightly larger refractive index than fresh water. Light ray ...
38
votes
4answers
5k 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 ...
19
votes
1answer
13k 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
3k views

Is there a theoretical maximum for refractive index?

May there be materials yet to be discovered which may have a higher refractive index than today's known materials (for wavelengths within the visible range)? Is there a theoretical limit for the ...
6
votes
2answers
5k 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
332 views

Determining the refractive index of a foil

(59th Polish Olympiad in Physics, final stage, experimental part, 2010) You have at your disposal: a sample of blue foil of a homogeneous material, placed between two glass panes in a ...
5
votes
5answers
7k 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 ?
4
votes
1answer
6k 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
828 views

Snell's law starting from QED? [duplicate]

Can one "interpret" Snell's law in terms of QED and the photon picture? How would one justifiy this interpretation with some degree of mathematical rigour? At the end I would like to have a direct ...
2
votes
2answers
149 views

Why is rainbow always circular?

From the article that I read on physics classroom website on rainbow, rainbow is formed with red on the top and violet on the bottom because violet refracts more, and has a smaller angle of deviation ...
0
votes
2answers
108 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
3k 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
3answers
1k 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?
2
votes
1answer
1k 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, ...
1
vote
1answer
5k 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
2k 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
161 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 ...
40
votes
5answers
5k views

If a lens focuses all incoming light to a point, how do we get 2D images?

How do lenses produce 2-dimensional images, if a lens bends all incoming rays of light to intersect at the focal point? Shouldn't this produce a single dot of light on a screen placed at the focal ...
6
votes
3answers
6k 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 ...
14
votes
7answers
9k 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 ...
5
votes
5answers
329 views

How is it possible for the wavelength of light to change in a medium?

So my physics class has just finished a long unit on optics while at the same time I've been trying to teach myself relativity. I admit my understanding is probably rudimentary, but I figured all the ...
9
votes
2answers
311 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 ...