MCAT Physics Question — Refraction
- Jan 07, 2015
- MCAT Blog, MCAT Physics, MCAT Question of the Day
- Reviewed By: Liz Flagge
The full spectrum of visible light created when light passes through a prism results from which of the following phenomenon?
This question is testing your understanding of optics and the physical phenomenon that results when white light shines through a prism of glass resulting in a rainbow of colors.
It is important to note that when light changes mediums, the frequency of the light does not change. Therefore, all the colors that comprise white light maintain their frequency but have a change in wavelength with a corresponding change in velocity. Since each color has a slightly different wavelength, each color refracts slightly differently. Ultimately, violet light has the largest decrease in wavelength and thus the highest index of refraction. Oppositely, red light has the smallest decrease in wavelength and the lowest index of refraction.
The splitting of white light into its components of varying wavelengths is best described by dispersion. Thus C is the correct answer.
Refraction is a component of dispersion but it only explains the way light bends and not the way white light is separated into the full color spectrum.
Reflection occurs when light travels from a medium with a higher refractive index to one with a lower refractive index in which none of the light refracts, but instead reflects staying in the same medium as initially.
Diffraction is the process of light spreading out after it passes through a narrow opening.
Want more MCAT practice?
We’ve got options for every schedule and learning style!
From the best online MCAT course created by top instructors with 524+ MCAT scores to the most representative full-length practice exams and private tutoring, we can custom tailor your MCAT prep to your goals!
Not sure which option is right for you? Schedule a free MCAT consultation with an MCAT Advisor using the form below. No obligation, just expert advice.
Search the Blog
Free ConsultationSchedule Now
Free MCAT Practice AccountNeed great MCAT practice?
Get the most representative MCAT practice possible when you sign up for our free MCAT Account, which includes a half-length diagnostic exam and one of our full-length MCAT practice exams.Learn More