Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Light travel at different speeds in different medium

  1. Feb 13, 2010 #1
    hey, I was just wondering if someone could give me an explanation about the following:

    1. why, physically, does light travel at different speeds in different medium

    2. why is the speed at which it travels through different media dependent of frequency, as is the case with dispersion.

    please don't explain snell's law. I know the equations. But the index of refraction is just a piece of algebraic information all bundled up in a package that you substitute in.

    I'm also aware of Hugens's Principle which explains how refraction works due to the changed velocity due to the medium in question.

    What I'm after is a more fundamental explanation, eg, relating to the inherent properties of glass vs water etc,

    Thanks a lot!
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 13, 2010 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Re: optics

    You may want to start by reading an entry in the FAQ thread in the General Physics forum. The discussion on photon transport in a medium might be relevant.

Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook