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propagation and behavior of light. In a general sense, light is
that part of the electromagnetic spectrum that extends from X
rays to microwaves and includes the radiant energy that
produces the sensation of vision. The study of optics is divided
into geometrical optics and physical optics, and these
branches are discussed below.

Thisareaofopticalscience concerns the application of laws of
reflection and refraction of light in the design of lenses (see
Lenses below) and other optical components of instruments. If
a light ray that is traveling through one homogeneous
medium is incident on the surface of a second homogeneous
medium, part of the light is reflected and part may enter the
second medium as the refracted ray and may or may not
undergo absorption in the second medium.

Willebrord Snell, states that the product of the refractive index
and the sine of the angle of incidence of a ray in one medium
is equal to the product of the refractive index and the sine of
the angle of refraction in a successive medium. Also, the
incident ray, the refracted ray, and the normal to the
boundary at the point of incidence all lie in the same plane.

Iflightpassesthrough a prism, a transparent object with flat, polished
surfaces at angles to one another, the exit ray is no longer parallel to
the incident ray. Because the refractive index of a substance varies for
the different wavelengths, a prism can spread out the various
wavelengths of light contained in an incident beam and form a
spectrum. In Fig. 5, the angle CBD between the path of the incident ray
and the path of the emergent ray is the angle of deviation. If the angle
the incident ray makes with the normal is equal to the angle made by
the emergent ray, the deviation is at a minimum. The refractive index of
the prism can be calculated by measuring the angle of minimum
deviation and the angle between the faces of the prism.

Giventhatarayisbent away from the normal when it enters a less
dense medium and that the deviation from the normal increases as the
angle of incidence increases, an angle of incidence exists, known as the
critical angle, such that the refracted ray makes an angle of 90 with the
normal to the surface and travels along the boundary between the two

Thisbranchofoptical science concerns the study of the polarization of
light, interference and diffraction, and the spectral emission,
composition, and absorption of light.


Normal light is unpolarized because the photons oscillate in random directions. When
normal light passes through a polarizing filter, photons that oscillate in certain directions
are absorbed, while others that oscillate in line with the filter pass through. A horizontal
filter, for example, absorbs photons that oscillate vertically (as shown here). The overall
intensity of the light is decreased, and the photons that remain after passing through the
polarizing filter all oscillate in roughly the same direction. A second filter turned 90 to the
first will absorb all of the polarized photons. If the two filters are instead lined up, all of the