1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Polarized Light

  1. Sep 28, 2010 #1
    1. A person riding in a boat observes that the sunlight reflected by the water is polarized parallel to the surface of the water. The person is wearing polarized sunglasses with the polarization axis vertical.

    If the wearer leans at an angle of 17.0 degrees to the vertical, what fraction of the reflected light intensity will pass through the sunglasses?

    2. I =I(initial)cos^2(theta)

    3. I tried I/I(initial)=cos^2(17) which yielded .91 but that was not correct. What factor am I missing here?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 28, 2010 #2


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    If the person is vertical, zero gets through, right?
    If they lean just a leeeetle bit to the side, how much should get through?


    Intuitively, does that make sense? Intuitively, what does make sense?
  4. Sep 28, 2010 #3
    that's true, I didn't think of it like that. So would it be 1-.915 which is .085. Thank you!!
  5. Sep 28, 2010 #4


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Never trust a calculator. Use and trust your common sense. The tool just gets you the decimals.

    IMO, that's the one big lesson students need to learn.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook