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

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19
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4answers
1k 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 ...
19
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 ...
17
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 ...
16
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
2answers
502 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. ...
13
votes
7answers
8k 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 ...
13
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
13
votes
2answers
4k 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
715 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. ...
9
votes
2answers
287 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
818 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
365 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
398 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
69 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
6answers
3k 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 ...
7
votes
4answers
4k 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
792 views

Does light change color on its way through a window?

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 ...
6
votes
1answer
411 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
654 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
202 views

How can I estimate the elasto-optic coefficients ($p_{11}$ and $p_{12}$) of a material?

I am attempting to estimate the elasto-optic coefficients ($p_{11}$ and $p_{12}$) of $\mathrm{TiO}_2$ and $\mathrm{ZrO}_2$, where $p_{11}$ and $p_{12}$ refer to the elements of a strain-optic tensor ...
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 ?
5
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
31k 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?
5
votes
3answers
640 views

How do “holographic plates” work?

I asked a question about laser stage lighting over at Audio Video Production, and received an excellent answer that explained that laser clusters are generated from a single beam via something called ...
5
votes
1answer
148 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
234 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 ...
4
votes
6answers
3k 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?
4
votes
3answers
546 views

Gravitational lensing or cloud refraction?

My current understanding of gravitational lensing follows When a star or other massive body passes between us and another star, the phenomenon generally labeled 'gravitational lensing' occurs. The ...
4
votes
4answers
6k 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?
4
votes
2answers
283 views

Can two media have same refractive indices?

Can two mediums placed under same conditions* ever have same refractive indices? *Pressure, temperature,etc.
4
votes
2answers
324 views

Goldfish perspective

What does the world look like from the Goldfish point of view, from inside a spherical aquarium? If our eyes were inside, would we be able to see the straight lines, focus on different objects and ...
4
votes
3answers
56 views

Why don't fogbows appear on clouds?

As far as I know clouds are lot of small droplets condensed in air. If droplets are large enough we see a rainbow. If they are small we see a fogbow. Although the size of the droplets are big enough ...
4
votes
2answers
190 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
2answers
2k views

intensifying a light source

When trying to intensify a beam of light by refracting it through a lens, (as in a lighthouse fresnel system or similar railroad style switch lamp from years past), is the beam intensity increased by ...
4
votes
1answer
172 views

Why does the light at the bottom of the pool form this awesome pattern?

Take a look at the following picture: Why does the light at the bottom of the water form this pattern? I have also seen the same phenomenon in all the swimming pools I've ever visited, of whatever ...
4
votes
1answer
490 views

The Interactions of Light and Matter

So basically, I was trying to find a good answer to the question of how light interacts matter. Namely on the quantum level what causes matter to appear transparent, reflective, opaque, etc I came ...
4
votes
2answers
420 views

Physical explanation for why total internal reflection occurs

I have been trying to understand total internal reflection (and have read several posts on this site already). Mathematically, I feel that I understand how the evanescent wave decays exponentially as ...
4
votes
3answers
301 views

Real image with converging lens?

I read in a AQA GCSE book that: A real image is formed by the converging lens if the object is further away from the principal focus/focal point. I did this experiment in class: Here is my ...
4
votes
1answer
893 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
137 views

Anisotropic refractive index with isotropic components?

In relation to my question here I wanted to make sure that my physical argument was not flawed. Anisotropic properties, (especially refractive index) is characteristic of a well-ordered solid ...
3
votes
4answers
21k views

Why do diamonds shine?

I have always wondered why diamonds shine. Can anyone tell me why?
3
votes
1answer
133 views

Is there a way to increase the speed of light itself?

When light enters materials it slows down due to its refractive index (due to absorbing and re-emission of photons). But, is there a way to increase the speed of light itself? Can there be some ...
3
votes
4answers
155 views

Is Kerr effect in glass observable?

If I apply high electric field to a glass piece can I observe Kerr effect to some extent or will it be too small for glass to observe with eyes? I want to perform simple experiment without any costly ...
3
votes
5answers
190 views

Light refraction and causality

One way how to look at refraction by a dielectric medium like water or glass is that (phase) velocity of light decreases because it is the wavelength rather than the frequency of the light which ...
3
votes
1answer
256 views

Fermat principle: which index of refraction?

I am somewhat puzzled by a common formulation of the Fermat principle (light travel time), because it contains index of refraction related to phase velocity while light travel time through a slab of ...
3
votes
2answers
287 views

Effect of gas or liquid within a compound lens system

Hi my question is if a compound lens system if filled with gas or a liquid how does it affect the system when compared to the lens system being separated by air alone. Does this affect the focal power ...
3
votes
2answers
222 views

Photons-Wave/particle duality

I know that photons and electrons and such are said to have a wave particle duality, but what does that mean for a photon? When light strikes an object, are many photons emitted, enough to draw ...
3
votes
1answer
111 views

How to compensate ray displacement caused by refraction in glass slab

I need a nudge in the right direction, i guess (this is not a homework question). I want to calculate the total length of a ray from an emitter to a target which passes through a slab with known ...