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

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47
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2answers
8k views

Why do I see better under water using swimming goggles? [duplicate]

I am myopic (I don't really know if this is relevant or not) and I usually swim without contact lenses. My vision is clearly better underwater when I am using swimming goggles. I have tried to ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 "...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
24
votes
5answers
4k views

Why isn't the sunset/sunrise rainbow-colored

When the sun is rising/setting, it goes through a phase where the light is bending from the atmosphere. I believe this image will explain much better than I ever could. Now, if light goes through ...
23
votes
1answer
859 views

How can my window not scramble the image of my yard?

How can an image pass through a window if the atoms in the glass randomly emit photons in any direction? I've read that glass is transparent because the atoms don't readily adsorb visible light, so it ...
22
votes
3answers
5k views

How can muons travel faster than light through ice?

When a neutrino traveling through ice hits and interacts with an oxygen atom, muons are created. Cherenkov radiation can be created when muons travel through ice faster than light and create a ...
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 ...
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 ...
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?
16
votes
1answer
1k views

Do neutrinos refract?

The most benign of interactions is refraction. While neutrinos rarely interact with matter in a sense like the photoelectric effect, does that mean that they don't refract either?
15
votes
1answer
937 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 ...
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 ...
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,...
14
votes
2answers
2k views

Would you see a rainbow from refraction when the sun is in front of you?

I know how rainbows are formed, and why. Usually it is said that the Sun must be behind the observer, in order for its light to be totally reflected inside the droplet and then reach the observer. ...
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 ...
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?
12
votes
3answers
1k 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
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 ...
10
votes
1answer
299 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
312 views

Effect of gravitation on light

Einstein predicted that the gravitational force can act on light. This was verified in one solar eclipse that light from a star near to the sun's disc bent due to Sun's gravity as predicted. Since Sun'...
9
votes
3answers
877 views

Why does the index of refraction change the direction of light?

I've been studying in optics the macroscopic maxwell's equations, and how electromagnetic fields propagate through different mediums. Over there, the index of refraction appears, as a complex function ...
9
votes
3answers
226 views

Alongside a light ray (in another medium)

It is a said fact that the speed of light is insurmountable. But can the validity of this fact be questioned in another medium? If I pass a beam of light in, say water (here the light speed is ...
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 ...
9
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
560 views

Do photons age in a medium?

According to special relativity, time starts to slow down as we increase our speed and eventually stops once we get to the speed of light. By that logic, photons don't age in a vacuum state as, to us, ...
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}~\...
8
votes
1answer
107 views

Do we have 2 minutes of extra morning?

my physics teacher told me about the refraction and its applications one of them was 2 minutes of early sunrise and after she explained this effect she concluded that days are 2 minutes longer than ...
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 ...
8
votes
4answers
715 views

Why do rainbows have distinct colors?

When I searched on the Internet for the reason of formation of rainbows, I got many explanations like this one & this. All the explanations consider only one spherical water droplet (like this one)...
8
votes
4answers
165 views

Why do the edges of glass blocks create a shadow?

I have always observed that the shadow of glass blocks becomes darker as the glass is moved away from the surface where the shadow falls. And I know this is because refracted light rays from the glass ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

How can a slowed light ray bend?

If light is traveling through air, it slows down and ends up bending. But how? If I'm running straight, and I get slowed down, shouldn't I still be running straight?
7
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
12k views

Why does red light travel faster than blue light?

I know that light of all frequencies travel at the same speed in vacuum. But I wonder why their speed differ in any other medium, why does red light travel faster if it has less energy than blue ...
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 ...
7
votes
1answer
223 views

How would we see the earth if refraction of light was significantly stronger?

On worldbuilding.SE there is a question about the cosmological consequences of a world with super-high refraction and atmosphere opaqueness. I'm assuming the easiest way to minimally change the laws ...
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?
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 ...
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 ...
6
votes
1answer
2k views

How does sun light after it has passed window's pane still heat me up?

I believe it is so because most of photons' energy has successfully passed the glass. But is it so? And how can I roughly estimate part of light's energy which will pass obstacles like glass? And how ...
6
votes
2answers
182 views

Is refraction sharp or smooth?

Refraction: light changes direction of propagation when entering a material with a different refractive index. Does the direction of propagation of light change sharply and almost instantaneously (...
6
votes
4answers
10k views

Real and imaginary parts of dielectric constant vs refractive index?

So for a complex dielectric constant $\epsilon = \epsilon_a + i\epsilon_b$, the wave vector and index of refraction are related to it through $k = \frac{\omega}{c}n$ and $n = \sqrt{\frac{\mu \epsilon}{...
6
votes
1answer
330 views

Why Negative refractive index is negative

$n=\sqrt{\epsilon \mu }$ Negative refractive index happens when permittivity ($\epsilon $) and permeability ($\mu $)of a material is negative. My question is, if permittivity and permeabilitity of a ...
6
votes
1answer
5k views

Why do some materials reflect (metals) and other materials reflect and refract (glass) from the quantum perspective?

Recently I was asked to explain the difference between reflection and total internal reflection from a purely conceptual standpoint (no math). Let me explain what I already know. Reflection and ...