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Light Refraction on the Surface of a Sphere

  1. Apr 9, 2015 #1
    Hello All,
    Using Snell's Law, it is pretty obvious how to calculate the angle of refraction when both index of refractions are known. My question is how would I apply this to a 3 dimensional situation, such as light refraction in a sphere? Since there are two angles in relation to the normal, how can I calculate the refraction? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 9, 2015 #2
    See this, for example. There are two "laws of refraction". Unfortunately too many times the first one is overlooked.

    http://www.learnquebec.ca/en/content/curriculum/mst/opticks/chapter3/4_perception3.html [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  4. Apr 13, 2015 #3
    Thanks for the link. You are absolutely correct that the first law is neglected when Snell's Law is taught. Since a new plane is formed from the surface normal and an incident ray, how would I go about tracing the refracted ray? Using Snell's Law, I can find the refracted ray on the new plane, but how can I track the refracted ray since it is on an arbitrary plane and can I find a relation to the origin? I guess the difficult part is trying to visualize this scenario. I hope that you can again point me in the right direction.
  5. Apr 13, 2015 #4


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