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Rishi Garg

Physics, 6th Period


Mr. McQueen
22 April 2008
Light, Brightness, and Distance

Preliminary Questions:
1) I think that the intensity of the light will decrease as it passes through
the set of two spheres. If the source of light emits a focused beam, the
intensity will decrease the same amount when passing through the
first and second spheres.
2) Since the outer sphere has a radius twice that of the inner sphere, let’s
assign the spheres radii of 1 and 2. Therefore, the surface area of the
inner sphere is 4π, and the surface area of the outer sphere is 16π.
Let’s say that if we had a third sphere with a radius of 3, it would have
a surface area of 36π. If we factor out a 4π from each of these surface
areas, we end up with 1, 4, and 9. This looks suspiciously like the
sequence of square numbers. Therefore, I believe that the intensity of
light decreases by a factor of the distance squared.

Analysis:

1) My graph of light intensity vs. distance does not appear to be


consistent with the model I predicted in the preliminary questions.
Although the graph as a whole appears to be a horizontal reflection of
the graph of x2, I am looking for a straight, linear line. Once I find this
line, I will know that the relationship between the x and y axes is true.
2) My graph of light intensity vs. the inverse of distance squared appears
to be consistent with the model I predicted in the preliminary
questions. I know this because the data appears to form a linear line.
There is one point that appears to be slightly out of place, but I can
probably attribute that to experimental error. The rest of the points
seem to fit into place as a straight line. This means that the
relationship between the x and y axes is scientifically true.
3) Based on my graphs, I believe that the relationship between the
intensity of light and the distance from the light source involves a
factor of d2. Since my graph of intensity vs. the inverse of the distance
squared formed a straight line, I believe that the intensity of light has a
relationship of 1d2. This means that as the distance grows greater from
the light source, the intensity decreases by a factor of the square of
the distance.
4) My experimental setup might have not exactly matched the
relationship I predicted between intensity and distance because the
light source and the sensor were not perfectly and constantly secured
throughout the entire experiment. It might have also been because of
metal and other objects nearby that reflected light back at the sensor,
giving it inaccurate readings.