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General term for splitting of light into constituents

  1. Dec 5, 2015 #1
    …… is the splitting of light into its constituent colors (wavelengths). Can I use the term ‘dispersion’ here? Or is ‘dispersion’ only restricted to splitting due to phase velocity/refraction differences of different wavelengths (prism)? If not ‘dispersion’, is there another general term that encompasses all type of splitting of light into component colours (irrespective of whether it’s via refraction, interference or whatever)? Many thanks for any help. (I’m a translator and I’m translating the sentence ‘Rozszczepienie światła to zjawisko rozdzielania się fali na składowe o różnej długości (barwie)’ from Polish into English.)
     
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  3. Dec 5, 2015 #2

    DrClaude

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    The correct term would be "decomposition," or (more precise in my opinion) "spectral decomposition."
     
  4. Dec 5, 2015 #3

    DrClaude

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    Oh, and my Polish is not very good, but maybe @Borek can help.
     
  5. Dec 5, 2015 #4

    Borek

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    Polish-English Dictionary of Science and Technology, WNT, Warszawa 1983, 7th ed.

    rozszczepienie.jpg
     
  6. Dec 5, 2015 #5
    Many thanks!
     
  7. Dec 5, 2015 #6
    Thanks, Borek - but the problem here is that they've translated 'rozszczepienie światła' as 'dispersion of light', which isn't exactly right according to further reading that I've done (although I'm not a physicist). According to wikipedia 'dispersion is the phenomenon in which the phase velocity of a wave depends on its frequency' - i.e. we're talking about the splitting that occurs, e.g. in a prism due to phase velocity/refraction differences of different wavelengths. The Polish, 'Rozszczepienie światła', however, appears to be broader, referring to splitting of light into its components in general: ' Rozszczepienie światła w fizyce to zjawisko rozdzielenia się fali świetlnej na składowe o różnej długości.' I was looking for a general term.
     
  8. Dec 5, 2015 #7

    Borek

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    I am far from saying I know which one is correct here, especially as English is my second language, but consulting a dictionary is never a bad idea.

    "Rozszczepienie" definitely refers to the kind of splitting that occurs when you use a prism, or - at least - that's where the term is introduced when you learn physics. I don't think I have ever heard it in other cases. In general "rozszczepiać" is a verb that describes process of splitting something into smaller parts - like splitting a piece of wood. Now, what is the best English word here is something I won't try to be smart about.
     
  9. Dec 5, 2015 #8

    DrClaude

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    Then "decomposition" is the right word.
     
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