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I Optics: Huygens' principle and bending of light

  1. Nov 5, 2018 #1
    I know the technical details of why light bends towards "the normal" when meeting a more refractive medium must be complicated. But I was thinking about it in a more lay fashion. I was thinking if the bending can be explained using Christiaan Huygens' principle in that a light front is made of smaller "wavelets".

    Suppose a "plane" wave front is coming in and meets a more refractive medium. Not all of the parts constituting the wave will enter the medium at the same time. Those already on the medium will have a small speed whilest the remaining partners will have a greater speed. This would cause a bending, like a V shape.

    If one now draws a "normal line" crossing the two media one will find that the full wave has bend towards the "normal line", just as Snell's law states.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 5, 2018 #2


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    Yes, that's exactly what happens.
  4. Nov 6, 2018 #3
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