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Why is the otter split? Light rays from it crossing the water/glass/air interface are sharply refracted, deviated in direction. Light from its body in the air is not deviated. It is a more interesting variant of the standard ‘straw in a glass of water’ demo of physics textbooks.
A deeper question is why is light refracted?
The key is that the speed of light is not constant, it slows significantly in dense media like water and glass. In ultra-dense diamond it crawls at a mere 77,000 miles per second, only 41% of its vacuum velocity.
A light wave entering a dense medium interacts with its atoms.
When the wave reaches an atom it is absorbed and induces small oscillations in the atom’s electron cloud.
For non-resonant scattering the result is that the atom then re-emits light at the exact same frequency which then proceeds as an outward wave at vacuum velocity.
This radiation then interacts with another atom and so on…
The small delays in re-radiation at each atom collectively appear as an overall reduction in the light’s velocity.
Sometimes photography can be nothing short of magical. In this tutorial we’re going to perform a wonderful trick that’ll be sure to impress your friends! We’re going to use the refraction properties of the glass and water to distort the pattern on the coloured paper background and create a fascinating optical illusion.
It’s possible to take interesting and creative photos using this simple technique. In our example, the two colour stripes in our backdrop have switched sides the optical effect of looking through water.
The technique is relatively easy to get to grips with. Fill a glass container with water and look though it, and you’ll instantly see the distorting effects of refraction. So grab a glass and let’s get started…