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Polarization of light

  1. Mar 19, 2010 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    Which model of light is used to explain polarization?

    Ray optics or particle model?

    2. Relevant equations

    3. The attempt at a solution

    I don't know. My guess is particle model.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 19, 2010 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    That doesn't ring any bells with me either. What are the definitions of "ray optics" and "the particle model"?
  4. Mar 19, 2010 #3
    "Rays are used to model the propagation of light through an optical system, by dividing the real light field up into discrete rays that can be computationally propagated through the system"

    I assume the particle model models light as particle as opposed to a ray.

    I still don't know which could be better applied to the polarization of light.
  5. Mar 19, 2010 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    Okay, I think I see where they are going with this question, but IMO it's not a very good question (not your fault), and is a bit obscure.

    As you stated, Ray Tracing is used to model the propagation of light through optics, so on the surface, it is pretty independent of polarization.

    So think about the "particle" model of light. What are the fundamental particles of light called? What properties does each of these particles posses (there are several properties). When you have a bunch of uncoordinated ones of these particles moving together, what polarization characteristic would you get when you measured the polarization? What would you get if you could measure an individual particle? (or a group of particles with similar properties....)
  6. Mar 19, 2010 #5

    Maybe I'm not on the right track here. I narrowed it down to two possible choices out of four, perhaps I shouldn't have been so quick to rule other two options out.

    EM wave model is another possible answer.

    I don't know anything about polarization other than polarized light is light that has been "filtered."
  7. Mar 19, 2010 #6


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    Staff: Mentor

    Um, what were the original choices (exact words please)?
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