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MCAT Physics – Light Behavior

  • by Kerry Goldstein
  • Mar 17, 2015
  • MCAT Blog, MCAT Physics, MCAT Question of the Day

A ray of light traveling through air hits a pane of glass with known refractive index. What information is required in order to calculate the angle of refraction?

a) Planck’s constant and the speed of light

b) the specific gravity of the glass

c) the angle of incidence

d) the density of air and the density of glass

Explanation

Snell’s law is written as η1sinθ1 =  η2sinθ2, where the refractive index of air, η1, equals 1. Given the refractive index of glass, η2, only the angle of incidence is required to calculate the angle of refraction.

a) Planck’s constant and the speed of light, incorrect, E=hf describes energy.

b) the specific gravity of the glass, incorrect, The specific gravity provides neither the angle of incidence nor the refractive index.

c) the angle of incidence, correct.

d) the density of air and the density of glass, incorrect, although the refractive index of a medium is related to its density, the density provides neither specific information about the refractive index nor the angle of incidence.

 

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