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Physics 1.j 23.04.2014 Hanne Martine G.

Reflection and Dispersion
Conducti ng experi ments on refl ecti on and di spersi on i n order to better understand theory
To see dispersion in action, we conducted an experiment. A piece of plastic with a slit in it was placed
in front of a light source, creating a thin ray of light. The light ray was then aimed at a glass prism.
When the prism was angled just so, the light ray would be dispersed upon entering the glass, so that
all the component colours of the light split up
and can be seen individually. Since the
experiment was conducted with white light, the
light split into the colours of the rainbow.
Different colors, as we perceive them, represent
different wavelengths of light. In white light all
the wavelengths are present.
When you shine a light through a prism, the light is refracted upon entering the glass and diffracted
upon exiting. In refraction and diffraction, the velocity of light changes, thusly changing its direction
at an angle. How the light is refracted/diffracted, meaning how much its velocity changes and how
much its angle changes, depends on the wavelength. When the different wavelengths in the white
light are refracted/diffracted at different angles, they can be seen individually as different colours.
Reflection is defined as the bending of waves when they hit an obstacle. In most cases, when we
speak of reflection, we are talking about light waves.
There are two laws of reflection.
The first law states that the angle of incidence (angle ) is
always equal to the reflected angle (angle ).
The second law states that the incidence ray (ray moving
towards obstacle), the reflected ray (ray moving away from the
obstacle) and the normal () all lie in the same plane meaning
it is not three-dimensional.
Physics 1.j 23.04.2014 Hanne Martine G. Rstad
In the experiment, we aimed a light ray at a mirror, in such a way that the ray was parallel to the
table. On the table, we had placed a sheet of paper. The goal of the experiment was to note down
the path of the light ray when the mirror was placed in different positions. Using the paper, we could
both note and measure the angles of incidence and reflection for each position, and compare the
results to the theory of reflection to see if they corresponded to the laws of reflection. The
experiment data corresponded perfectly to the theory.