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Angle of refraction through ice into water

  1. Nov 10, 2008 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    A layer of ice having parallel sides floats on water. If light is incident on the upper surface of the ice at an angle of incidence of 15.0°, what is the angle of refraction in the water?

    2. Relevant equations

    3. The attempt at a solution
    i know its not so simple that i can just use Sin theta n1 = sin theta n2.... but i dont know how the fact that it is parallel will change the equation. Should i find the angle of refraction in the ice and then use that as the angle of incidence for the water???
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 10, 2008 #2


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    Homework Helper

    The equation only applies at a point on the surface - being parallel just means that you don't care where on the surface.

    It's almost the same as the typical experiment with light going through a glass block.
    You simply apply Snell's law ( n1 sin t1 = n2 sin t2 ) at each surface.
    You will need the refractive index of ice and remember which way light bends at each surface.
  4. Nov 10, 2008 #3


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    Gold Member

    Yup. That's how you should go about this problem. Use Snell's law twice, once at each interface.
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