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58
votes
4answers
23k 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 "...
45
votes
3answers
15k 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 ...
8
votes
6answers
11k views

Do photons have acceleration?

Photons travel at the fastest speed in our universe, the speed of light. Do photons have acceleration?
52
votes
11answers
79k 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 ...
18
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
48
votes
6answers
107k 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
1answer
657 views

If refraction slows down light, isn't it possible to hold light still?

I have a quick question about the refraction of light, and I'm sorry if it seems a bit simplistic or even stupid, but I'm still learning. We know that when light passes through a denser medium, it ...
7
votes
6answers
6k 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?
16
votes
1answer
2k views

Why is not everything 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
5k 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
4answers
128k views

Why do diamonds shine?

I have always wondered why diamonds shine. Can anyone tell me why?
14
votes
3answers
8k 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,...
9
votes
7answers
12k views

Why can we only “see” reflected light? [duplicate]

This is a question thats been bothering me a while. I don't even know if it makes sense or not (like if it is a physics question or becoming a philosophical one). But here it goes. The crux of my ...
2
votes
1answer
634 views

Diffraction by blazed grating via reflection: why is the reflection angle diffrent depending on $\lambda$?

Consider a blazed grating as the one in picture. It is possible to obtain a diffraction of a beam of light as in a trasmission grating (diffraction of reflection grating) and different wavelenghts ...
2
votes
2answers
3k 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
3k views

Why is glass green? [duplicate]

When I look at a glass block at an angle the edges appear green, but when I look at the edge sideways, so that is directly in front of my eyes it appears transparent. Why?
3
votes
4answers
12k views

Relation between intensity of light and refractive index

The intensity of light (as calculated from time average of the poynting vector) is given by $I = (1/2) \epsilon v E_0^2$. Here the intensity is dependent on the velocity of light in the medium. The ...
1
vote
1answer
902 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
13k views

Purple doesn't occur in rainbow - or does it?

Usually, when asked whether the purple color exists rainbows, an answer similar to this is given: The purple color is perceived by human eyes via the activation of both red-sensitive and blue-...
1
vote
2answers
374 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 ...
42
votes
4answers
11k 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 ...
17
votes
7answers
19k 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
12k 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 ...
8
votes
5answers
18k 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 ?
6
votes
1answer
3k views

Why does light not slow down?

Clearly light bounces off of things, going really really fast. I'm curious to understand how light interacts with matter in order to bounce without: Applying force to the object Losing speed So my ...
3
votes
6answers
14k views

Does light loses its energy when it passes through denser medium?

I know it does not because it emerges out of denser medium at 300,000 KM per second, but according to $E=mc^2$ and given that speed of light decreases inside denser medium with refractive index ...
4
votes
3answers
7k views

What “exactly” happens when a ray is incident at the critical angle?

The question arose when my physics teacher taught me geometrical optics and told that the phenomenon of both refraction and $reflection$ occur by change in medium. First of all, I'm not sure about the ...
1
vote
1answer
11k 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 ...
43
votes
3answers
6k views

How does light re-accelerate after slowing down? [duplicate]

Light travels at speed x through a vacuum, and then it encounters a physical medium and slows down, only to leave the physical medium and re-enter vacuum. The speed of light immediately re-accelerates ...
12
votes
2answers
639 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 ...
5
votes
5answers
643 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
943 views

What is happening at a atomic level when light hits an object?

I just began learning light and optics and I am just so confused about what reflection, refraction and absorption is. I think a large part of my confusion stems from exactly what happens at an ...
5
votes
1answer
2k views

What causes these rainbow effects using a polarizing filter on an airplane?

I know that light reflected from a surface at 45° is polarized and that for a similar reason skylight arriving from a direction orthogonal to the sun is polarized too. Photographers make use of this ...
4
votes
2answers
896 views

Does Snell's law still apply after total internal reflection has occurred?

Snell's law states that: \begin{align} n_1\sin\theta_1 &= n_2\sin\theta_2\, ,\\ \sin\theta_1 &= \frac{n_2}{n_1}\sin\theta_2\, ,\\ \sin\theta_1&\propto \sin\theta_2\, . \end{align} The ...
3
votes
2answers
744 views

Light-matter interaction and an object's appearance

I am taking a course in Computer Graphics, and the teacher said we could put materials in there main categories: mirror like glossy or specular diffuse He suggested that the law of reflection is ...
3
votes
2answers
262 views

Is it possible to create an optical medium where sound can travel faster than light?

The speed of light decreases with increase in the density of the optical medium whereas the speed of sound increases with increase in the density of the medium. So is there any possibility to ...
1
vote
4answers
2k views

Double rainbows

In my garden, when I'm watering the plants I sometimes see a rainbow or two. How did two rainbows appear? Why can't I see three rainbows then, or how can I see three rainbows?
1
vote
3answers
2k views

Frequency dependence of the speed of light in air

According to this link, the speed of light of different colors in a medium should be different. But if the refractive index of light in air is 1 then this means that the speed of light in air and ...
1
vote
1answer
2k views

Why is a rainbow curved in shape?

Why is a rainbow curved in shape? When dispersion of light takes place, light splits into seven colors, but when rainbow is formed it appear to be bent. Why does this happen even though light travels ...
3
votes
2answers
210 views

Can we see refraction of light in the air with our eyes?

Can we see refraction of light in the air with our eyes? I am asking that because every night I see that the light in the street moving little is that because of change in the air? I do not mean ...
2
votes
1answer
1k 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
5answers
606 views

Is there a medium less dense than vacuum, in which light can travel faster than $c$? [closed]

Is there a medium less dense than vacuum, in which light can travel faster than $c$? If not, can we make it?
0
votes
2answers
469 views

Could time dilation bend the path of a photon? Does time dilation have a refractive index?

The main question I am getting at is, does time dilation have a refractive index? What I mean is, if I were to shoot a laser past a black hole, would the laser's path "bend" strictly from time ...