Assignment 26: The Nature of Light
Due: 8:00am on Wednesday, April 18, 2012
To understand how points are awarded, read your instructor's Grading Policy.
± Understanding the Propagation of Light
To understand ray diagrams, as well as basic reflection and refraction problems.
There are two ways of indicating, in a diagram, the path that light follows. One way is by using wavefronts (shown inblue); the other is by using rays (shown in red) . Wavefronts represent, in aschematic way, the successive peaks of the electromagnetic wave at a specific time. Light is a transverse wave; itmoves
to the wavefronts. Rays are used to indicate the direction of motion of the light. Ray diagrams aretypically used in problems where the wave nature of light is not important, as will be the case in geometric optics.Notice in the diagram that the wavefronts get closer together inside of the glass. This is because the speed of light inglass is less than that in air. The
of a wave does not change when it propagates through different media, eventhough its
may change. (Waves can be neither created nor destroyed at the boundary between different media;hence, the number of waves that strike the boundary per unit time must equal the number of waves that leave theboundary per unit time.)Let be the wave's speed, its wavelength, and its frequency. These quantities are related via the equation . Notethat, if the wave speed decreases, the wavelength must also decrease for the frequency to remain constant.
What is the wavelength of light in glass, if its wavelength in air is , its speed in air is , and its speed in the glass is ?
How to approach the problem
Hint not displayed
Express your answer in terms of , , and .
CorrectThe letter is used to denote the speed of light in vacuum. Although the speed of light in air should have been used for thispart, the speeds of light in air and vacuum are so similar that they are often used interchangeably. You should always keep thisin mind, as problems that specify many significant figures may require you to use the correct speed in air. For the rest of thisproblem, however, assume that the difference between the speeds of light in air and vacuum is too small to affect your results.
The index of refraction for a material is defined to be . Rewrite your answer from Part A in terms of the index of