Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Does my paragraph make any sense at all?

  1. Jan 6, 2005 #1
    Its about Light Refraction does it make any sense at all? if not (which Im sure), how can I fix it? :biggrin:

    Why do electromagnetic waves warp when it goes through the process of refraction? The reason lies in the subatomic level of science. First of all, an electromagnetic wave is produced by a vibrating electric charge. As it traverses through a vacuum of space, it travels in a velocity of 2.99792458 x 108 m/s, or can be expressed as ā€œcā€. When the wave collides with a particle of matter, the wave is absorbed and the electrons within the atoms undergo a vibrating motion. If the frequency of the electromagnetic wave is not identical to the frequency of the vibrating electron, the energy is reemitted in a form prior to absorption, as electromagnetic wave.
    The new wave will have identical frequency as the previous wave and it will also travel through the trans-atomic space until it confronts another atom. If the frequencies are different, the electrons will go through a vibrating motion once again. This cycling process continues until the electromagnetic wave is transported through the medium.
    This process is the fundamental cause of slowing down the velocity of an electromagnetic wave. Every photon in the electromagnetic wave travels the trans-atomic space at c, but the process of absorption slows it down. Therefore, the overall speed of an electromagnetic wave traversing any substance will have less speed as it would travel in a vacuum.

    Its about Light Refraction does it make any sense at all? if not (which Im sure), how can I fix it?

    Thakns :biggrin:
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 6, 2005 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Yes,it does,it's the microscopical explanation of the fact that under refraction,due to absorption and reemission,the speed of light is in fact diminished as an overall effect,but in the interatomic space,it still travels at "c".

  4. Jan 7, 2005 #3


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    The paragraph certainly makes sense, but I think you might want to rewrite your opening statement (question, actually). You've described why an EM wave has a speed < c in a meterial medium, but nothing about why the wave "warps". In fact, I wouldn't use the word "warp" if what I mean is 'deviate' or 'bend'.

    Since the explanation of the deflection is a little harder (best done with some math), perhaps you should change your opening question to : "Why do EM waves slow down in a material medium, resulting in the phenomenon known as refraction ?"
  5. Jan 7, 2005 #4
    Hey man, thanks! :biggrin: Im glad that it makes sense

    P.S When u said something about math, did you mean by snell's law? sin Theta1 / sin Theta2 = n?
  6. Jan 7, 2005 #5


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    He meant the math behind Snell-Descartes law.The wave theory of light and its interactions with matter is not that simple and math could become very complicated.

  7. Jan 7, 2005 #6
    sigh, i only finished up to Triganomitry and im up here in Canada so the schools up here are a year behind the US, Im a year behind on Asia's standards and Im a year ahead of Canada's, I guess that wont help much.. :tongue:
  8. Jan 25, 2005 #7
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook