Why if a ray pass though different materials its direction changes?

  1. Dec 30, 2012 #1
    Hello, why if a ray pass though different materials its direction changes ? couldn't its propagation speed just increase or decrease without having to change the angle ?

    Thank you
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 4, 2013
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 30, 2012 #2
    Re: refraction

    The way I was taught is that light has a wave front that is perpendicular to the direction of travel. When the wave front hits a different medium, one edge of the wave front enters the medium first and its velocity changes. This causes the wave front to rotate and change the direction of the ray.
     
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