Understanding light through Refraction and Prism

1004education024In the late sixteenth century, Sir Isaac Newton discovered that sunlight consists of different colors. It is the wavelength of the light that give its color appearance; different colors have different wavelength and their interaction with the particle of air determines their appearance. He explained more about the wavelengths of the light using prism; an optical object that refracts the light.

What Sir Isaac did was simple, he used a prism and allowed the sunlight fall on to it and when the light fell on the prism it refracted revealing its wavelengths, thereby using this simple experiment the greatest physicist of all time revealed and explained the property of light elegantly and profoundly. Let’s get into more details of refraction through a prism and try to understand each aspect separately.

The glass of Magic

It is well established fact that light travels at different speed, the speed depends upon the object in which, it is traveling. Now the prism with its unique shape refracts the light, and produces amazing kind of effects, because the light that enters the prism leaves the prism at different angles and based on those angles different wavelengths of lights are produced, giving it an enchanting appearance like it is seen in a rainbow.

The prism since its inception has been successfully used in many physics labs to show and study the properties of white light, what it consist of and what are its features. The discovery of prism shunned all the previously held notions about the white light and helped scientist established stronger point of views depending upon careful analysis of the facts that were produced before them.

What is refraction through a prism?

In simple language or layman words, it is a simple process in which light is bent when it passes through a substance, and this is exactly what a prism does. It bends the white light into the different angle refracting beam of colors that are beautiful and enchanting. The process of refracting can also be used following other kinds of experiment.

Other methods to understand Refractions

  • Water: This experiment is done using a bowl and a coin and is the most famous and commonly used experiment in schools and homes. In this experiment a coin is placed in the bowl and then a person takes a few steps back, they must keep going back till the time the coin becomes almost invisible and then have someone pour the water in the bowl.

What will happen is the coin that was not visible now will start appearing back, and this appearance is made possible by the process of refraction, the bending of light makes this experiment possible and visible. Another successful experiment in this regard is performed using pencil:

  • Pencil: This is a prime example where the refraction of light will cause a perfect visual illusion, something that is fascinating to see. In this method take a pencil and put it inside the water tank, the pencil seems to stand straight when it is looked from the  sides of the jar but due to refraction of light it seems little bend when seen from above.

So in this way the property of light differs in different mediums.

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