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Homework Help: Refraction of Light

  1. Sep 17, 2005 #1

    I have a good understanding of the refraction of light and the reason it occurs etc. but what is confusing me is the exact reason for the "slowing" and hence bending of light inside a transparent material.

    What are the exact properties that allow a transparent material to slow a beam of light?

    What does the slowing of a light beam attribute to the bending of a light beam?

    And Could some one please explain or refer me to a site that does explain the phsyics behind the refraction of light.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 18, 2005 #2

    Chi Meson

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    Last time someone asked this question, three people simultaneously recommended that the person read QED by Richard Feynman.

    Light "slows down" when it travels through transparent media because the photons must interact with the material as it travels through it. It is the interaction (absorption and re emission) that slows down the overall process. While the light is actually moving, it is traveling at the maximum speed of light.

    Explaining "why" light changes direction while intering a new medium involves quantum physics.
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