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How the Length of the Block That the Light Travels Through Varies the Lateral Displacement.

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Nicholas Robson        Teme House        Physics coursework

Physics coursework Experiment: How the Length of the Block That the Light Travels Through Varies the Lateral Displacement.



Refraction is how, in this case, a beam of light is slowed down or gets faster when it goes from one medium to another. In this case, the light will be slowed down when it goes fromair into glass and speeds up as it goes back into air. So it goes from a less dense medium into a denser medium and back again. It will bend towards the normal when the light goes in to the glass block.


Lateral displacement is the amount of movement that the ray of light has done whilst going through a different medium to when it started. In this case, the lateral displacement is affected by the glass, but even air slightly bents the light. The only medium that doesn't affect the light is a vacuum.image06.pngimage02.pngimage03.pngimage16.pngimage15.pngimage01.pngimage16.pngimage15.pngimage05.pngimage08.pngimage14.pngimage04.pngimage00.png



The Experiment:


As the lights will be off, one must be careful not to trip an anything on the floor.


My hypothesis is that as the as the length of the block grows (L), the Lateral displacement grows as well. This is because the glass block drags the ray of light towards the normal.

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How the table will look

I will plot a graph and fill in a table of the length of the glass block and the length of the displacement.

Length  of

the block

 Lateral displacement













The numbers on the left side of the table depend on the lengths of the sides.

The range of my results will be from 10 mm to about 140mm. I know this because in my preliminary experiment, the size for the lateral displacement was 34 mm, with size L as six, and the angle of incidence as 60 degrees. I will

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        The results suited the prediction in that they followed the pattern predicted.

        If I did this experiment again in a months time, there would be a lot of things to change. First, I would change my angle of incidence to a smaller number. Then I would measure the light ray from right in the middle. The reason why I didn't was because I hadn't realised that the ray grew in thickness as you travel down it, and if I had measured it from the bottom, I wouldn't have to be tempted to guess where to measure from.

        I think that the results were quite reliable, because they didn't have to be checked. They were very close to the line of best fit and they were roughly directly proportionate.

 "as the length of the block grows (L), the Lateral displacement grows as well" and they follow a strong pattern.

        The anomalies of the project, as they are so small, can be negligible, because I can see was they should be about and they say that you can't be too accurate.

        For further work on this topic, I would see how much the angle of incidence would change the amount of lateral displacement. This is partly, because, my angle of incidence was too big for some of my values, so it would be interesting to see how big is too big.

04 May 2002 - 26 May 2002

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