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The law of refraction says that

$$n_1\sin \theta_1=n_2\sin\theta_2$$

So we deduce that when $n_1<n_2$, we have $i_1>i_2$ and the refracted ray will be drawn closer from what is normal.

If we imagine a swimming pool, with an object half in it, we would be exactly in that case - the refracted ray will draw closer from the normal, and an observer would see the object further away than it really is.

However, I did a similar experiment, but the results were the opposite - see the below picture:

Picture of hand holding yellow pencil in sink filled with water such that the pencil is half-submerged. The pencil is held at a slight angle which appears to drastically increase underwater, such that the pencil looks bent upward. The shadow of the whole pencil appears completely straight in the background.

What am I not understanding here?

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2 Answers 2

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The apparent location of an object is where it would be if the light rays had traveled in a straight line from the object to your eyes. The rays actually bent downward at the water's surface, and came from a lower location. So the submerged object appears to be higher than it really is.

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The law deals with the angles of incidence for the rays, not with the angles of the perceived image of the object.

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