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Thread: What is happening with light's refraction?

  1. #1 What is happening with light's refraction? 
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    Most everyone's familiar with the beam of light striking and entering into the conducting medium of a prism and being divided into the seven colors of the solar spectrum.

    Less of us are aware that the light slows down as it passes through the dense conducting medium, fewer of us are aware that upon the lignt's exit from the conducting medium, it regains its standard velocity. The same enigma is applicable to every rainbow caused by light passing through raindrops or a mist.


    I don't know of any explanation for that last statement, nor have I read or heard of any such explanation.

    How is it that light is slowed while moving through a conducting medium such as a prism, and then regains it's speed upon exiting the conducting medium?

    Does anyone know the answer to this question? If so will you kindly educate me and however many other forumites and Reader's may have an interest in this perplexing enigma?

    Whatever the answer may be to this question, it's obviously information of importance to the understanding of the propagation - and conduction - of light.
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  3. #2  
    Forum Junior Vroomfondel's Avatar
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    Well, a lot of people dont know this for sure. My (possibly inacurrate) view on the subject is that as ligh passes through the medium, it is constantly being absorbed and re-emitted by the molecules of the medium. This process slows down the average speed of the light in the medium, but when the light isnt absorbed by the medium, it always travels at C, since the space in between the molecules is a vacuum.

    my 2 cents...


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  4. #3  
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    Vroom is right - in different mediums light just runs into particles, gets absorbed, and then emitted.
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    Forum Professor Zwolver's Avatar
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    :? still, if it gets absorbed don't the color of the light change with it to a wavelenght with less energy?

    my theory is that the rotation of the lightbeam moves at (almost) infinite speed. and in the more dense medium it will be based more on electrons. So it'll slow them down due to the magnetic rotational force of the electrons in the medium to lightspeed. and thus the light will travell less than light speed..

    How can i explain... normally the lenght of a wave contains the energy, but at that point the rotation of the beam contains the energy.. so it'll be slower in a denser medium..

    This would also mean that electrons in a solid medium move faster or contain more energy than in normal air (or just that it has more atoms per mm3)

    hmm, true or false?
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  6. #5 Re: What is happening with light's refraction? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by That Rascal Puff
    How is it that light is slowed while moving through a conducting medium such as a prism, and then regains it's speed upon exiting the conducting medium?
    This is explained by the Maxwell equations; basically the velocity of light depends on the permittivity and permeability of the material that it is traveling though. The permittivity and permeability are the material's resistance to change in electric and magnetic fields.

    http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/phys...Equations.html
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  7. #6 Light refraction, propagation in different mediums. 
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    Thank you, Vroom, Neut and Zwol. I find Scifor's reply the most comforting.




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