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Polarized light: Where did the magnetic field go?

  1. Jul 14, 2013 #1
    Many of the diagrams of polarized light seem to show light with an electric field and a magnetic field approaching the polarizing filter, but only an electric field coming out of the filter. Where did the magnetic field* go? Does a filter that produces plane polarized light somehow eliminate the magnetic field? Does the magnetic field just pass through the filter unchanged, so long as the corresponding electric field is able to pass through?

    *The magnetic field associated with the light that makes it through the filter.

    (This question was inspired by an MCAT review book. I am not a student. I am studying for the medical school admissions test, to hopefully make it in to medical school.)
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 14, 2013 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    It is still present and is perpendicular to the electric field and the direction of propagation. Perhaps your diagram was showing the electric field of different polarization states?
  4. Jul 14, 2013 #3
    That must have been it.
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