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Feb19-12, 04:10 PM
P: 3,187
Quote Quote by HallsofIvy View Post
Not so much "more detailed" as saying I am wrong- it is not the atoms that absorb the photons, it is the lattice of atoms. Thanks, that clears up some questions I had about that.
According to my textbook (Fundamentals of Optics, Jenkins&White) that is also not entirely correct (probably the FAQ needs a little rework). Refraction is there explained with scattering theory. As the primary wave traverses the solid at speed c, it brings the charges in vibration and this forced oscillation emits secondary waves with a slight phase delay. The resulting wave is then also phase delayed. In this description there is no absorption or re-emission of waves (although there is, obvioulsy, transfer of energy in and out).

PS @childej: I think that this precision answers all your later questions.