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Q & A: Total internal reflection in water

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Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
How can light bounce through water
- Carlton
Shenandoah Middle, Miami,Fl US
A:
Light can bounce through water because water has a larger index of refraction than the surrounding air (n_water=1.33 n_air=1). When light comes to the interface of the water and air it can only pass into the air if it hits the surface within a certain range of angles. The maximum angle (when measured from perpendicular to the surface) at which light can pass into the air is about 48 degrees. Any angle larger than that will result in the light reflecting back into the water and is called "Total Internal Reflection"

-James

(published on 10/22/2007)

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