RHYS LEWIS, AHS, DECD, UNISA / EQUINOX GRAPHICS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY RHYS LEWIS, AHS, DECD, UNISA / EQUINOX GRAPHICS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Animation of the principles of refraction, the change in direction of a wave due to a change of the medium through which it is travelling. When a beam of light passes into another medium at an angle, it deflects by an amount proportional to the difference in the speed of light between the materials, a figure called its refractive index. If it hits the surface at 90 degrees, there is no deflection but it still slows down. Snell's law states that the sine of the angle of incidence (red) multiplied by the refractive index of the first material in equal to the sine of the angle of refraction (green) times the refractive index of the second material. The equivalent occurs when the beam leaves the material, exiting on a parallel path to the one on which it entered.
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