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NMAT Reviewer Geometrical Optics

NMAT Reviewer Geometrical Optics



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Published by: mannypot on Sep 19, 2009
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Geometrical Optics
When an object is dropped in still water, the circular wave frontsthat are produced move out from the contact point over the two-dimensional surface. A light source emits light uniformly in alldirections of the three-dimensional world. The wave fronts arespherical, and the direction of motion of the wave is perpendicularto the wave front, as depicted in Figure1. This straight line pathshown by the arrow is called a
. Depicting light as rays in
provides a method to explain the images formed bymirrors and lenses.
Figure 1
Rays are perpendicular tothespherical wavefronts.
Far from the source, the curvature of the wave front is small, so thewave front appears to be a plane. Then, the light rays will be nearlyparallel. Rays from the sun are considered to be parallel when reachingthe earth.
The law of reflection
Most visible objects are seen by reflected light. There are few naturalsources of light, such as the sun, stars, and a flame; other sources areman-made, such as electric lights. For an object to be visible, lightfrom a source is reflected off the object into our eyes (except in thespecial case of phosphors). In Figure2, the light is coming from thesun, parallel due to the distance of the source. The light reflects off theobject and travels in straight lines to the viewer. Through experience,the viewer has learned to extend the reflected rays entering the eyeback to locate the object.
Figure 2
Vision istheresult of lightreflectedfrom theobject.
As shown in Figure3, light strikes a mirror and is reflected. Theoriginal ray is called the
incident ray
, and after reflection, it is calledthe
reflected ray
. The angles of the incident and reflected rays arealways measured from the
. The normal is a line perpendicularto the surface at the point where the incident ray reflects. The incidentray, reflected ray, and normal all lie in the same plane perpendicular tothe reflecting surface, known as the
plane of incidence
. The anglemeasured from the incoming ray to the normal is termed the

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