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A Laser beam in oil/water, why is it easier to see beam in oil

  1. Aug 24, 2016 #1
    Hi there

    I have a general question. I understand the process of light through a optically denser material, slower speed etc... but why would a laser beam in oil be easier to "see" than a laser beam through water.

    Cheers
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 24, 2016 #2

    phinds

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    2016 Award

    because oil is less transparent than water so there is more dispersion of photons towards your eye. Density has nothing to do with it, it's all about transparency.
     
  4. Aug 24, 2016 #3
    If I might suggest - the term dispersion is used correctly to mean the light is dispersed or sent in many directions but it also has another meaning in optics, namely the separation of light into its different colors as with a prism. So to avoid confusion, we could say there is more scattering of light in oil compared to the more transparent water.
     
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