What is the difference between reflection and refraction?
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Q:

What is the difference between reflection and refraction?

A:

Quick Answer

The difference between reflection and refraction is that in reflection waves bounce off of a surface while in refraction those waves do not bounce back but pass through the surface, which bends them and changes the speed of the waves. The image of a face is reflected back from a pool of water, but the light on the bottom of the pool of water is refracted because it is uneven and hazy due to the way the water bends the light waves.

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Full Answer

According to How Stuff Works, reflection occurs when waves are bent back after hitting a surface. Reflection is necessary to vision. All objects reflect some wavelengths of light. The precise wavelengths reflected and absorbed determine the colors of objects.

According to Dictionary, refraction waves are also bent, but they travel through the substance as well as being bent back. In this way, a pool of water that reflects light and therefore shows the image of a face also refracts that light, causing it to give the bottom of the pool a speckled look. The reason for refraction is that waves pass at different speeds through different substances. The wavelengths of light that determine color are broken up during refraction, which creates rainbows.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is an example of refraction?

    A:

    The formation of a rainbow and the splitting of light when it passes through a prism are examples of refraction. A pencil placed in a beaker of water looks bent due to refraction of light.

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  • Q:

    What is the index of refraction?

    A:

    The index of refraction of any material is the speed of light in a vacuum divided by the speed divided by the speed of light in the medium. It is denoted with the letter "n."

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  • Q:

    What are the practical applications of refraction?

    A:

    Refraction is the differential bending of light as it passes through a medium, and it is used in a wide variety of applications throughout industry and the sciences as well as in living bodies. Light refracted through an optical prism spreads out into a spectrum of its constituent colors and allows individual wavelengths to be examined on their own.

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  • Q:

    What causes light refraction?

    A:

    Refraction is caused by light passing from one medium to another (from air to water, for example) and experiencing a change in speed. A fisherman looking into water to spear a fish will have to remember that refraction will distort the image he sees under the water's surface.

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