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Snell's Law

Laser light is shown passing into and out of a hemi-cylindrical dish filled with water. The light enters the water (at the curved side of the dish) along the normal line; no bending occurs upon entry. The light continues through the water along a straight line until it reaches the boundary with air (at the flat side of the dish). The angle of incidence in the water is approximately 39°. At this angle, the light refracts out of the water into the surrounding air bending away from the normal. The angle of refraction in the air is approximately 57°. These values for the angle of incidence and refraction are consistent with Snell's Law.


For more information about the physics of total refraction and Snell's Law, visit The Physics Classroom Tutorial -

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Taken on October 13, 2010