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Homework Help: Help with optics problem

  1. Sep 22, 2005 #1
    I need to find a Fermat Equation for a parabola that sends light from a point sour ce on X the access back parrallell to the x access.


    If you want to see what I tried, I posted a pic a few days ago, under the title optics, but no one responded at that point.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 22, 2005 #2


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    Okay, you know it's a parabola. Do you know that the "standard" form for a parabola is y= 4cx2 where (0, c) is the focus? Since you want the focus on the x-axis and want the ray back parallel to the x-axis, you need to swap x and y:
    x= 4cy2.
  4. Sep 22, 2005 #3
    Yes, I know, but I need the fermat equation where the Optical Path Length (OPL) is equal for all points of the surface. What I am unsure about is if the OPL for the center must be added the the OPL of arbitrary X position for the parabola, eg
    N1 (So + So - X) = N1 (X^2 + y^2)^1/2, where So is the distance from the point source to the parabolic axis on the x axis, and X and Y are cooresponding arbitraray co-ordinates to points on the parabola.
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