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Introduction
The mechanical and medical use of lasers is sound, with many fields expanding to
advanced technology such as laser cutting and laser measurement. A few examples of
occupations that may use lasers in this sense are cosmetic and eye surgeons, welders, the
military for marking targets and scientific facilities. Lasers can be very different from
each other depending on their wavelength, so it is essential to be able to classify lasers in
a simple and quick way.
Since different wavelengths of light are refracted at different constants, the way
on how to differentiate colors is known. There is no very easy way to calculate the
wavelength of a laser as the process is very tedious. The purpose of this experiment;
therefore, is to find out whether there was a significant difference in the angles of
refraction of different colors, and if so, find a simple, efficient and inexpensive way to
calculate and differentiate wavelengths from each other. This would speed up the
production of lasers and aid mechanical engineers, medical technicians and the like with
their classification of lasers.
The method used to carry out this experiment was simple: an acrylic glass prism
was placed on a platform at a constant distance away from a wall, a laser light was shown
through it and the angle of refraction tied to that color of laser was measured. Since there
was a significant difference, this method is plausible to be able to efficiently categorize
lasers by wavelength. All designs in this experiment are held constant, save for the laser
itself, so the simplicity of such a method is present. The uses of acrylic glass prisms are,
in fact, inexpensive. That being said, the experiment given is a simple, efficient and
inexpensive way to categorize different wavelengths of lasers from each other.

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Review of Literature
To understand the refraction of light, prior knowledge of light itself must be
known. Light has troubled many scientists in the past because of its confusing state of
being. Scientists did not know whether to classify light as a wave, or many particles
traveling at the same velocity. Christiaan Huygens experimented during the late-1600s
and produced the wave theory of light. (“Theory of Light”) It was not until the early 20th
century that this theory would be proven otherwise. Eventually, in 1905, Albert Einstein
explained the photoelectric effect. The photoelectric effect produced the idea of photons.
These photons are what light consists of, making light not only a wave, but a
collaboration of particles as well. (Crowell, Benjamin) It is due to the nature of light as a
wave that light refracts, or bends, and likewise the nature of light as a particle causes
reflection. To focus on the subject of refraction, light must be considered as a wave.
When a wave passes through a transparent material, like water or glass, it bends to a
certain degree. (“Light: Refraction of Light”)
When a laser is shown through a prism, the angle that the laser goes into the prism
is called the angle of incidence, and the angle that the laser exits the prism is called the
angle of refraction. Refraction can be defined as the bending of the path of a light wave
as it passes through two different mediums. It is caused by the change in speed by a wave
when it changes mediums. (Henderson, Tom) Different colored lasers have different
wavelengths. Varying wavelengths mean different angles of refraction. The shorter the
wavelength of a laser, the greater the angle of refraction. This change in speed is due to
the frequency of the wave vibrating with the molecules of mediums; therefore, higher
frequencies tend to vibrate molecules at a faster rate, while low frequencies tend to

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vibrate them slowly. (Davidson, Michael W.) Since frequency and wavelength are
inversely proportional, this means that smaller wavelengths have high frequencies and
larger wavelengths have low frequencies. To emphasize, this is why smaller wavelengths
will vibrate more molecules and bend more, while larger wavelengths will vibrate less
molecules and in turn, bend less. (Marquard, Paul J)
Refraction can be measured using Snell’s law, which is shown in Figure 1. below:

n1sinθ1 = n2sinθ2
Figure 1. Snell’s Law

Figure 2. Snell’s Law Diagram
Above is another representation of Snell’s law using vectors and two different
mediums.
The variable n is the index of refraction of one medium. This value varies and
depends on the structure of the medium and the wavelength of light that is being shown
through the medium. The index of refraction for air with any color is approximately one.

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θ 1 refers to the angle of incidence, or the angle that light enters a medium and θ 2

refers to the angle of refraction, or the angle that light exits a medium. The material of the
prism that is provided in the experiment is acrylic, and its index of refraction against a
common red laser light is 1.491. (Polyanskiy, Mikhail N)
A few problems that could occur while experimenting with refraction are some
side effects of shining a laser through a glass prism. For example, absorption, reflection
and diffraction are all products including the researched topic of refraction. Absorption is
the “transfer of the energy of a wave to matter as the wave passes through it” (Abdullah
et al.). The law of reflection states that when light is shown on a material, the electrons
and molecules that the material consists of will cause the photons of the light to bounce
off in a direction perpendicular to the angle through which it was shown. Diffraction
defined simply is the bending of light around edges or corners. (“Laser Diffraction
Theory”) Though some of these products may affect refraction slightly, they will not
interfere with the experimental design nor influence any calculation.
The problem statement of this experiment deals with how different colors of light
have different angles of refraction. The hypothesis states that the blue laser will refract
more than the red laser. In the visible light spectrum, the color violet is at the far left with
the smallest wavelength. The color red is at the far right with the largest wavelength.
Beyond visible light and looking at the whole light spectrum, the wavelengths have been
categorized into different names at different numerical values along the spectrum. The
largest wavelength at 1,000 meters is Radio. Following this is Microwave at .01 meters,
then Infrared at 10-5 meters. Next is visible light at .5 x 10-6 meters, followed by

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Ultraviolet at 10-8 meters, X-ray at 10-10 meters, and Gamma ray at 10-12 meters.
(Schneider, David J)
The word LASER is an acronym: “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of
Radiation”. What is interesting about lasers is that they come in one color, whereas
flashlights produce white light which contains all colors. They are also shown as a beam
of light. This beam of light is created through the amplification of a few photons to a
large number of photons traveling uniformly. The stimulation of the laser comes with an
electrode atom interacting with one photon to split it into two photons. This is usually
accomplished with a set of batteries and a circuit. The emission in LASER refers to the
actual giving off of photons, or the light beam being shown. The radiation is another
name for the photons which are being emitted. (“L.A.S.E.R.”)
Lasers themselves are classified in different ways. The two most common ways to
categorize a laser is by its wavelength, and its intensity. The wavelength of a laser is a
method of measuring the specific color of that laser to a numerical value, usually counted
in hundreds of nanometers. For example, a green laser would have a mean wavelength of
532 nm. A blue laser, 445nm and a red laser 650 nm. (Aldrich, Robert) The intensity of a
laser is measured in milliwatts. If you increase the amount of power being generated by
the internal parts of the laser, you proportionally increase the intensity of that laser. The
intensity of light is defined as the quantity of visible light that is emitted in unit time per
unit solid angle. Anything above 50 mW could be considered dangerous as these lasers
have the ability to burn matches and melt plastic. The highest intensity a handheld blue
laser available for consumer purchase has is 1200 mW, having properties to set wood on

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fire, melt rubber, cut black electrical tape, and light a match. (“What Can Certain mW of
Laser Do”)

Problem Statement
Problem:
Will color affect the angle of refraction of a laser beam when shown through a
prism? Which color out of blue, red, or green will have the greatest effect?
Hypothesis:
Color will have an effect on the refraction of the laser beam when shown through
a prism. The blue laser will have the greatest amount of refraction compared to the red or
green laser due to its shorter wavelength.
Data Measured:
The researchers have found which laser beam has had the greatest angle of
refraction based on its color. The purpose was to find which color laser beam would have
the greatest angle of refraction when shown through a prism. The researcher has
measured the distance from the resulting laser point to the normal line and used
trigonometry (tangent inverse plus 30 degrees) to determine the angle of refraction. The
angle of incidence has been kept constant, so only the refraction angle would be
measured. The resulting units of measurement are degrees. All angles of refraction are
taken from a normal vector. The ANOVA statistical test will be used to calculate if there
is a significant difference between wavelengths of lasers. By graphing and plotting data
points, the color with the greatest amount of refraction will be shown.

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Experimental Design
Materials:
1 mW 633 nm red laser
5 mW 523 nm green laser
30 mW 405 nm blue laser
10 cm x 25 mm Acrylic Prism
2 Laser Stands (Appendix B)
Ruler

Procedure:
1. Randomize the 90 trials for the three lasers. Each laser will get 30 trials.
2. Set up the prism so that its tallest side is perpendicular to the wall and 6 inches away
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.

from the wall at its center.
Set up the laser so that it is perpendicular to the wall and aimed at the middle of the wall
Place the laser in its stand, if it is the blue or green laser, and turn it on. (See Appendix A)
Shine the laser through the prism and mark where the beam hits the wall
Measure the distance from the middle of the wall to where the beam hits
Take the arctan of the distance from the prism to the wall over the distance measured and

add 30 degrees to get the angle of refraction.
8. Repeat steps 3 through 7 for the remaining trials.

Diagram:

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Prism
Laser
Stand
Laser
Figure 3. Experiment Setup
The set-up of the experiment is shown in figure 3. The laser was placed on the
table, shown through the prism, and the angle of refraction will be calculated by
measuring the distance from the where the beam was centered to where the beam went
and then taking the tangent inverse plus 30 degrees of the distance from the middle of the
prism to the wall over the distance measured.

Data and Observations

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Table 1
Green Laser Data
Trial
1
3
5
7
8
9
11
16
18
20
23
24
27
31
32
38
42
46
48
50
51
68
69
74
76
77
78
81
82
90

Distance from
Date
wall (inches)
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
3-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
6-May
6-May
6-May

6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6

Distance from
center (inches)
7.625
7.125
6.640
6.421
6.500
6.968
6.625
6.500
7.000
6.875
6.875
7.000
7.375
6.750
6.812
6.687
6.562
6.687
6.234
5.875
5.898
7.093
7.187
7.156
7.281
7.312
7.250
6.140
6.734
6.968

Angle of
Angle of
refraction
refraction
(Radians)
(Degrees)
0.90410
81.8013
0.87090
79.8990
0.83603
77.9012
0.81934
76.9451
0.82537
77.2906
0.85995
79.2719
0.83486
77.8341
0.82537
77.2906
0.86217
79.3987
0.85325
78.8879
0.85325
78.8879
0.86217
79.3987
0.88784
80.8696
0.84415
78.3664
0.84872
78.6285
0.83953
78.1016
0.83014
77.5637
0.83953
78.1016
0.80455
76.0974
0.77487
74.3969
0.77686
74.5109
0.86873
79.7749
0.87520
80.1454
0.87305
80.0225
0.88157
80.5103
0.88367
80.6310
0.87945
80.3893
0.79698
75.6636
0.84300
78.3005
0.85995
79.2719
78.5385
Average
Standard
Deviation

Table 2
Blue Laser Data

1.7731

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Trial

Date

Distance from
wall (inches)

Distance from
center (inches)

Angle of
refraction
(Radians)

Angle of
refraction
(Degrees)

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2
12
15
17
19
25
26
28
29
30
35
43
44
52
54
57
62
64
66
67
70
71
73
75
80
83
84
85
86
87

3-May
3-May
3-May
3-May
3-May
3-May
3-May
3-May
3-May
3-May
3-May
3-May
3-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
6-May
6-May
6-May
6-May
6-May
6-May

6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6

7.000
6.968
6.453
6.515
6.640
6.609
7.203
6.906
6.390
6.578
7.046
7.312
6.843
7.484
6.671
7.781
7.375
6.750
8.250
7.625
8.000
7.656
7.000
7.765
7.437
7.796
7.343
7.281
7.625
7.943

0.86217
0.85995
0.82176
0.82657
0.83603
0.83368
0.87627
0.85550
0.81691
0.83132
0.86546
0.88367
0.85099
0.89503
0.83836
0.91393
0.88784
0.84415
0.94200
0.90410
0.92729
0.90609
0.86217
0.91296
0.89196
0.91490
0.88576
0.88157
0.90410
0.93177
Average
Standard
Deviation

79.3987
79.2719
77.0838
77.3591
77.9012
77.7667
80.2066
79.0165
76.8057
77.6316
79.5875
80.6306
78.7585
81.2818
78.0350
82.3647
80.8696
78.3664
83.9726
81.8013
83.1301
81.9151
79.3987
82.3090
81.1060
82.4203
80.7504
80.5103
81.8013
84.7089
80.2054
2.11283

Table 3
Red Laser Data
Trial

Date

Distance from
wall (inches)

Distance from
center (inches)

Angle of
refraction
(Radians)

Angle of
refraction
(Degrees)

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2
12
15
17
19
25
26
28
29
30
35
43
44
52
54
57
62
64
66
67
70
71
73
75
80
83
84
85
86
88

3-May
3-May
3-May
3-May
3-May
3-May
3-May
3-May
3-May
3-May
3-May
3-May
3-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
6-May
6-May
6-May
6-May
6-May
6-May

6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6
6

6.937
6.750
6.937
6.859
6.234
6.593
7.062
6.125
6.218
5.546
5.937
6.437
6.781
6.281
6.265
5.765
5.703
5.921
5.812
5.937
5.875
5.718
5.906
5.718
5.906
5.906
5.687
6.187
6.125
5.898

0.85773
0.84415
0.85773
0.85212
0.80455
0.83250
0.86655
0.79570
0.80329
0.74617
0.78016
0.82055
0.84644
0.80829
0.80705
0.76548
0.76003
0.77884
0.76952
0.78016
0.77487
0.76140
0.77752
0.76140
0.77752
0.77752
0.75866
0.80078
0.79570
0.77686
Average
Standard
Deviation

79.1446
78.3664
79.1446
78.8233
76.0974
77.6992
79.6501
75.5906
76.0256
72.7527
74.7000
77.0145
78.4978
76.3118
76.2406
73.8588
73.5468
74.6245
74.0906
74.7000
74.3969
73.6251
74.5488
73.6251
74.5488
74.5488
73.4683
75.8814
75.5906
74.5109
75.7209
1.9815

Tables 1, 2, and 3 show the data recorded for the three different laser colors. The
data from the trials were collected over the course of three days. To calculate the angle of
refraction, take the tangent inverse of the distance from where the laser was centered to

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where the beam refracted, over the distance from the prism to the wall. A sample
calculation for the angle of refraction can be found in Appendix B.

Table 4
Green Laser Observations
Trial Date
Observations
1
5-May Done at school; Austin measured;
3
5-May Done at school; Rebekah measured;
5
5-May Done at school, Rebekah measured
7
5-May Done at school; Rebekah measured;
8
5-May Done at school; Austin measured;

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Trial
9
11
16
18
20
23
24
27
31
32
38
42
46
48
50
51
68
69
74
76
77
78
81
82
90

Date
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
3-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
6-May
6-May
6-May

Observations
Done at school; Austin measured;
Done at school; Austin measured;
Done at school; Austin measured;
Done at school; Austin measured;
Done at school; Austin measured;
Done at school; Austin measured;
Done at school; Austin measured;
Done at school; Austin measured;
Done at school; Austin measured;
Done at school; Austin measured;
Done at school; Austin measured;
Done at school; Austin measured;
Done at school; Austin measured;
Done at school; Rebekah measured;
Done at school; Rebekah measured;
Done at school; Rebekah measured;
Done at school; Austin measured;
Done at school; Austin measured;
Done at school; Austin measured;
Done at school; Austin measured;
Done at school; Austin measured;
Done at school; Austin measured;
Done at school; Rebekah measured;
Done at school; Rebekah measured;
Done at school; Austin measured;

Table 5
Blue Laser Observations
Trial Date Observations
2
12
15
17
19

3-May
3-May
3-May
3-May
3-May

Done at Rebekah's house; first trial using new method; using sticky note
so you don’t mix up the points later on
Done at Rebekah's house; prism on larger stand than the red laser.
Done at Rebekah's house; larger stand;
Done at Rebekah's house; larger stand;
Done at Rebekah's house; larger stand;

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Trial
25
26
28
29
30
35
43
44
52
54
57
62
64
66
67
70
71
73
75
80
83
84
85
86
88

Date
3-May
3-May
3-May
3-May
3-May
3-May
3-May
3-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
6-May
6-May
6-May
6-May
6-May
6-May

Observations
Done at Rebekah's house; larger stand
Done at Rebekah's house; larger stand;
Rebekah's house; larger stand;
Rebekah's house; larger stand; re adjusted laser before trial
Rebekah's house; larger stand; re adjusted laser before trial
Rebekah's house; larger stand;
Rebekah's house; taller stand;
Rebekah's house; taller stand; re adjusted before trial
Done at school; Rebekah measured;
Done at school; Rebekah measured;
Austin measured; adjusted laser because of its upward angle.
Done at school; Austin measured;
Done at school; Austin measured;
Austin measured; Possible outlier
Done at school; Austin measured;
Done at school; Austin measured;
Done at school; Austin measured;
Austin measured; Possible outlier
Done at school; Austin measured;
Done at school; Rebekah measured;
Done at school; Rebekah measured;
Done at school; Rebekah measured;
Done at school; Austin measured;
Done at school; Austin measured;
Done at school; Austin measured;

Table 6
Red Laser Observations
Trial
Date Observations
4 3-May Done at Rebekah's house; placed the prism on a smaller stand.

6
10
13

Done at Rebekah's house; placed the prism on a smaller stand; noticed
that it is difficult to get the laser perfectly perpendicular. Find a way to
3-May make sure it is perpendicular
3-May Done at Rebekah's house; prism on shorter stand
Done at Rebekah's house; smaller stand; noticed that moving the stand
3-May even slightly can change the distance by a few 64ths of an inch

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Trial
14
21
22
33
34
36
37
39
40
41
45
47
49
53
55
56
58
59
60
61
63
65
72
79
87
89

Date
3-May
3-May
3-May
3-May
3-May
3-May
3-May
3-May
3-May
3-May
3-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
5-May
6-May
6-May
6-May

Observations
Done at Rebekah's house; smaller stand;
Done at Rebekah's house; smaller stand;
Done at Rebekah's house; smaller stand;
Rebekah's house; smaller stand
Rebekah's house; smaller stand; re adjusted before trial
Rebekah's house; smaller stand;
Rebekah's house; smaller stand; re adjusted before trial
Rebekah's house; smaller stand;
Rebekah's house; smaller stand; re adjusted before trial
Rebekah's house; smaller stand; re adjusted before trial
Rebekah's house; smaller stand;
Done at school; Rebekah measured;
Done at school; Rebekah measured;
Done at school; Rebekah measured;
Done at school; Austin measured;
Done at school; Austin measured;
Done at school; Austin measured;
Done at school; Austin measured;
Done at school; Austin measured;
Done at school; Austin measured;
Done at school; Austin measured;
Done at school; Austin measured;
Done at school; Austin measured;
Done at school; Rebekah measured;
Done at school; Austin measured;
Done at school; Austin measured;

Tables 4, 5, and 6 show what happened during the data trials. The format was to
say first where the data was taken, then the name of the person who measured the trial,
and then anything else that may have happened during the trial.

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Normal
Dot

Laser
Figure 4. Experiment Set Up
To set up the experiment, the laser must first be perpendicular to the wall and
centered. Figure 4 shows the laser being lined up with the center of where the prism will
be placed. The stand for the prism is set so that the beam will go through the center of the
prism and the exit point will be 6 inches from the wall.
Refracted
Dot

Prism
Laser
Figure 5. Experiment Execution
The prism is placed on a stand set up in front of the prism. Figure 5 shows that the
prism is perpendicular to the wall and that the laser shines through its center during the
experiment. The laser beam refracts and can be seen on the sticky note to the left of
where the laser was centered.

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Normal
Line

Mark
Ruler

Figure 6. Measuring Experiment
The angle of refraction for the lasers was measured by taking the tangent inverse
of the distance from where the laser was centered to where the beam refracted, over the
distance from the prism to the wall. Figure 6 shows how the distance was measured,
using a ruler that was accurate to a 64th of an inch.

Data Analysis and Interpretation
The following is a representation of good, reliable data. Data that is trustworthy
and normal has three characteristics. The data should be controlled, randomized and
replicated. There were many control aspects that were used in this experiment. These

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include keeping the position of the prism stand and prism constant at six inches away
from the wall, keeping the side of the prism that the lasers were shown into the same, and
keeping the angle of incidence (the angle at which the laser is shown through the prism
from the normal vector) constant. Secondly, the data collection was randomized for every
trial. For ninety trials, the order of laser colors was picked using a random number
generator. As for replication, the number of trials in data collection matched the normality
minimum, so as to satisfy the central limit theorem. The control in this experiment makes
sure that there are few if not none lurking variables. Randomization reduces bias;
specifically, selection bias. Bias could affect data in a number of ways, such as producing
unwanted patterns or skewness.

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Red vs Green vs Blue
Blue

Green

Red
66

68

70

72

74

76

78

80

82

84

86

Angle of Refraction (Degrees)

Figure 7. Boxplot for the Comparison of Colors
Above is a series of boxplots for the data sets of Red, Green, and Blue colored
lasers. All of the data appears normal and not skewed; however, the spread of the blue
boxplot is greater than the other two boxplots and the mean for the red boxplot is closer
to its quartile one than its median. From Red to Blue, the means of the angles of
refraction increase. There are no outliers, and the overall graph shows evidence that there
is a significant difference between colors of lasers. The only part of this graph that may
be questionable is the comparison between green and blue lasers, so a statistical two
sample t-test is necessary, although this will not affect the overall ANOVA test.

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The statistical test that should be used to compare multiple means to each other is
the ANOVA test. Each colored laser is a different and individual population. Since there
are no proportions associated with any of the values, a Chi-Square test is not appropriate.
While there are known values comparing wavelength and angle of incidence to angle of
refraction, the problem statement calls for a comparison only between the angles of
refraction of different colors to each other; therefore, separate t-tests are not appropriate
in this case. This cancels out all other options of comparing means to each other, since the
populations’ standard deviations are unknown.
Conditions: SRS- Met
Sample sizes greater than or equal 30- Met
Ten times the sample size is less than or equal to the population size- Met
The researches have made sure of simple randomizing by doing a whole of ninety
trials, (30 trials limited to each color) randomized to which color should be tested. It was
made sure that the data would be normal if each different colored laser had thirty trials
associated with it. The overall spread and shape for each data set is normal, and very
similar to each other. The only differences are where the data sets lie; for example, the
red laser had significantly less angles of refraction than the blue laser. There are no
outliers, so the trustworthiness of the data is very sound.
H0: µred = µgreen = µblue
Ha: Not all of µred, µgreen, µblue are equal
Figure 8. ANOVA Hypotheses
The Null Hypothesis states that all of the means of red laser angles of refraction,
green laser angles of refraction, and blue laser angles of refraction are equal to each other.

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The Alternative Hypothesis states that not all of the means of these three populations are
equal.
F statistic=

MSG
=39.718
MSE

Figure 9. F Statistic Calculation
The F statistic is calculated by dividing the Mean Square for Groups by the Mean
Square Error. See Appendix A for sample calculations.
P-value= 5.557x10-13
The researchers reject the null hypothesis because the P-value found was less than
the common alpha level of .05. This means that not all of the angles of refraction from
different wavelengths of lasers (red, green, blue) are equal. The P-value of 5.557x10-13
shows that there is approximately a 0% chance of obtaining these results assuming the
Null Hypothesis is true.
To compare and make sure the population means of green to blue lasers are
different, a two sample t test should be carried out. There are two populations, and the
desired measures are means, not proportions. The standard deviation of each population
is not known; therefore a z test should not be used.
Conditions:

SRS – Met
Sample sizes greater than or equal 30- Met
Ten times the sample size is less than or equal to the population size- Met

H0: μgreen = μblue
Ha: μgreen ≠ μblue
Figure 10. Two sample t-test Hypotheses

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The Null Hypothesis states that the means of the populations of green and blue
lasers’ refraction angles are equal to each other. The Alternative Hypothesis says that
these two means are not equal to each other.
t=

( ¯x 1−¯x 2)

2

2

s1 s2
+
n1 n 2

=−3.656

Figure 11. Two Sample t-test Calculation
The t-test statistic is calculated by dividing the difference of means by the square
root of the sum of standard deviations squared over sample size. Sample calculations can
be found in Appendix D.
P-Value = 0.0016
The researchers reject the Null Hypothesis that both the means of the green and
blue lasers’ angles of refractions are equal to each other because the P-value that was
found was less than the common alpha level of .05. This means that the means of the blue
and green lasers’ refraction angles are not equal to each other. The P-value of 0.0016
means that there is a 0.16 % chance of obtaining similar results by chance alone,
assuming that the Null Hypothesis is true.
Overall, this t-test conclusion proves that the data between blue and green lasers is
normal and can be taken to account as not a significant source of statistical skewness.

Morales 24
Conclusion
This experiment was based on the effect of different wavelengths on the angle of
refraction. The hypothesis was that wavelength, shown as color, certainly would have an
effect on the angle of refraction. To test this hypothesis, an experiment was carried out
that includes three different colors of lasers and an acrylic prism. These lasers were
shown through the prism, and the angle between them was measured.
The hypothesis was proved to be correct with a statistical ANOVA test. The
researchers rejected the null hypothesis that the mean of the lasers’ angles of refraction
are equal to each other. The null hypothesis was rejected under the P-value of 5.557x10-13,
because is less than the common alpha level of 0.05. This means that not all of the angles
of refraction of different wavelengths of lasers (red, green, blue) are equal. The P-value
of 5.557x10-13 shows that there is approximately a zero percent chance of receiving
similar results by chance alone if the null hypothesis is assumed true.
Certain sources of error might have been present in the design of the experiment.
For example, the light coming from the room itself may have had an effect on the angle
of refraction. However, this may not be a statistically significant lurking variable as the
density of the air was not changed. Another possible source of error might have been the
changes in temperature throughout the experiment. This also would not cause a
significant difference in results because the changes were not so extreme as to affect
light, and any changes with thermal expansion of either the acrylic prism or the lasers
would have been minute to a point beyond measurability. More probable sources of error
however were certainly known during this experiment. As with the properties of light and
different mediums, more characteristics appear than just refraction. These are reflection,

Morales 25
diffraction, and absorption. Some laser dots that were refracted had the properties of
reflected light and were quickly singled out. There is no evidence that diffraction and
absorption occurred to an abnormal degree, but these characteristics were no doubt
present.
The conclusion that different colors have different refraction angles shows that
wavelength has an effect on refraction. More specifically, the color red has the highest
wavelength, and therefore was refracted the least, followed by green and finally blue
which had the least wavelength, was refracted the most. Based on this evidence, it is
probable to conclude that all wavelengths, even ones that cannot be seen (such as radio,
infrared or ultraviolet rays) follow this law. Such discovery could even amount to
understanding and changing the direction of ultraviolet rays from the sun and other
sources to protect skin.

Morales 26
Acknowledgments

Mr. McMillian for help on Experimental Design

Mrs. Cybulski for help on overall paper

Parents for Support

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Appendix A: ANOVA Sample Calculations
Table 7
ANOVA Sample Table
Red
Green
Blue

ni

Mean

Standard Deviation

30
30
30

75.72087
78.53847
80.20537

1.981498188
1.803407179
2.112829926

Above is the table needed to calculate the F- statistic for the ANOVA test. The
table shows the number of samples taken out of each population, their means and
standard deviations. The table is used to calculate MSG and MSE.
xx =

30(75.72087)+ 30(78.53847)+ 30(80.20537)
90
xx = 78.1549

MSG=

30(75.72087 – 78.1549) 2+30(78.53847 – 78.1549) 2+30 (80.20537 – 78.1549)2
2
MSG = 154.1408
MSE=

29 (1.981498188)2+29(1.803407179)2+29( 2.112829926)2
89
MSE = 3.7937
F = 154.1408/3.7937
F = 39.718

Appendix B: Laser Stand Production

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For the production of laser stands, take a single block of wood and mark where
the clamps to hold the laser should go. Make sure not to mark too close or too far away so
the laser can be stable. Drill holes equal in depth to the clamp screws at the marked
points. Once this is done, tightly screw in the clamps in each hole. The laser should rest
easily inside the two clamps. The measured materials for this project is a block of wood
1600mm x 75mm x 36mm and a 3/16 drill bit.

Appendix C: Sample Calculation for Refraction Angle

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θ=tan

−1

θ=tan

−1

d1
+ 30°
d2
7.625
+30 °
6

θ=81.8013

Figure 12. Sample Calculation
Figure 10 shows a sample calculation from the data in the first trial. The angle is
calculated in Figure 10 is shown in degrees. In the formula, θ is the angle of refraction, d1
is the distance from the center to where the laser beam is refracted, and d2 is the distance
from the prism to the wall. In tables 1-3, the angle of refraction is first shown in radians.

Appendix D: Two Sample t-test Calculations

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t=

78.5385−80.2054

1.77312 2.112832
+
30
30

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