What Happens to the Wavelength of Light as it Passes Through Water?

In summary, the wavelength and speed of light changes as it passes through different media, but the frequency remains the same. This is because the frequency is the fundamental quantity in waves and is tied to the wavelength by the wave speed. This concept is often misunderstood due to our focus on quantifying light in terms of wavelength rather than frequency.
  • #1
The Baron
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I have a question, say a wave of light is emitted, and it passes through water, changing it's wave length to 380nm inside the water, once it comes out of the water, to vacuum will the wavelength remain at 380nm or will it change?
 
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  • #2
The wavelength (and speed) changes as the light passes through various media. What remains the same is the frequency.
 
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  • #3
The Baron said:
once it comes out of the water, to vacuum will the wavelength remain at 380nm or will it change?
I think this must be one of the most frequently asked questions in Physics. Strange - but not so strange is that we all accept the fact that sound doesn't change frequency as it passes through different media. Where's the difference between the two ideas? Imo, it has to be because we started off (and still do, largely) by quantifying light in terms of its wavelength but we hear the frequency of sound.
The clever bit is about a change in wave speed affecting the wavelength and not the frequency is one step further on in our Physics education. Frequency is the fundamental quantity in waves because the vibrations have to be 'continuous' at an interface (the ups and downs cannot get out of step across a boundary). The wavelength is then tied to the frequency by the wave speed.
 

Related to What Happens to the Wavelength of Light as it Passes Through Water?

1. What is water changing wave length?

Water changing wave length refers to the phenomenon where the wavelength of a water wave changes as it travels through different mediums or encounters different obstacles.

2. How does water changing wave length occur?

Water changing wave length occurs due to the change in the speed of the wave as it travels through different mediums. This change in speed causes the wavelength to either increase or decrease.

3. What factors affect water changing wave length?

The factors that affect water changing wave length include the density and temperature of the water, the depth of the water, and the type of medium the wave is traveling through.

4. What is the significance of water changing wave length?

Water changing wave length is important in understanding the behavior of water waves and their interactions with different mediums. It also has practical applications in fields such as oceanography and engineering.

5. Can we control water changing wave length?

While we cannot directly control water changing wave length, we can manipulate the factors that affect it, such as the medium or the depth of the water, to some extent. However, the natural laws of physics ultimately determine the behavior of water waves.

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