If light hits a mirror and then switches direction

  • Thread starter seerskater
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Main Question or Discussion Point

if light hits a mirror and then switches direction....

if light hits a mirror at a 90 degree angle, wouldn't it HAVE to travel slower than the speed of light when it hit the mirror?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Vanadium 50
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No. Why?
 
  • #3
HallsofIvy
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When light reflects from a mirror, it is absorbed by the mirror and re-emited. It does not "stop" and change direction.
 
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When light reflects from a mirror, it is absorbed by the mirror and re-emited. It does not "stop" and change direction.
I meant more what hallsofivy guessed. That is interesting though. Would the angles of reflection the same for a solid object bouncing off a wall? it seems odd that light's angle of reflection wouldn't be jumbled around somehow while it was absorbed by the mirror.
 
  • #6
turbo
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Just a niggle, here. If light hits a conventional rear-surface silvered mirror it will travel slower than its normal speed in air when it hits the glass, until it is reflected by the silvering and re-exits the glass and re-enters air. This is not situation with a front-surface silvered mirror like those used in telescopes or the larger flat mirrors that are used to allow optometrists/ophthalmologists to test your visual acuity in small exam rooms. In such cases, the light is reflected right back into the air and does not have to traverse any glass.
 

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