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Overview         (For age - group : Below 16 )

Ever wondered how a prism can play with nature, it can break white light into its component colors and then recombine them back into white light. This animated physics (optics) software gives in-depth information about wavelenghts of light, refraction and dispersion and is very useful for schools.

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Prism :
Category : Science
Type : Animation
Length : 9 minutes

Content of the software animation :

  • Common terms describing a prism ?
  • Behavior of a light ray as it passes through a prism?
  • Angle of incidence, refraction, emergence and deviation
  • Why light breaks into different colors inside a prism?
  • Can a white light be obtained from a prism ?
  • Totally reflecting prisms, erecting or zero deviation prism

A prism is made of glass
Deviation of light inside prism ray diagram
A prism is made of glass
Deviation of light inside prism ray diagram
dispersion of light inside a prism into rainbow like colors
prisms can recombine dispersed light back to white light
dispersion of light inside a prism into rainbow like colors
prisms can recombine dispersed light back to white light
Details of the animation/ movie /software

What happens when a beam of white light strikes a prism?

The components of white light get refracted by different angles and follow different paths within the prism. The phenomenon due to which white light splits into component colors is called dispersion..

Violet has the maximum speed and red has the minimum in glass. Hence, the violet bends the most and red the least. Each color leaves the prism after refraction through different angles.

How can we get a spectrum with the white light and the prism?

The band of colors obtained on the screen when white light strikes the prism and splits into component colors of spectrum.

Can the component colors be recombined to white light?

By placing an inverted prism in path of the dispersed beam, white light can be obtained.

What happens when a ray strikes one of the surface of a prism?

The incident ray strikes one surface of the prism and enters from a rarer medium (air) to a denser medium (glass), hence bends towards the normal.
It is observed that after undergoing refraction through the prism the emergent ray gets deviated from the original path of the incident ray.
The angle between incident ray and the emergent ray is called angle of deviation.

On what factors the angle of deviation depends?

The angle of deviation produced by a prism depends upon i) angle of incidence, ii) refractive index of material of prism, iii) color or wavelength of incident light, and iv) angle of prism .

If you are still unclear about the concepts, please refer the animation below.

Besides the above points the animation file also contains the following

  • Description of prism
  • Detailed animation and description of ray that enters and leaves the prism
  • Why does light break into its component colors ?
  • Totally Reflecting prisms
  • Erecting prisms or zero deviation prisms

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Q & A
Q1: coment ghennou 26/3/2012
Q2: explain the statement, a rectangular prism causes a light ray to undergo lateral displacement for angles of incident different form 0 degree? Javeria 28/3/2010
Q3: kway? would each ray again split? anirudh 27/2/2010
Q4: Why does dispersion does not take place in glass slab ? goku 19/2/2010
Q5: What is a biconvex lens? Sweety 2/9/2009
Ans: Bi-convex lenses are manufactured with an identical convex surface on both sides of the lens. Bi-convex lenses have positive focal lengths and form both real and virtual images, also called convexo-convex lens. Lenses are classified according to the way in which they bend the rays of light entering them. Parallel rays of light passing through these converging lenses are bent toward one another; these lenses are thicker at the center than at the edges.
Q6: Hi! Sir why are you not answering questions pending in your site. Plz tell me the reason. You have told us that a question may take up time upto 15 days but I have submitted my questions for over two months but no one has responded it. Why? Ahsan 3/1/2009
Q8: Why it is the reason behind the scattering and recombining of white light into its constituent colours in prism ? Why does this do not take place in glass slab ? Anirudh 9/10/2008
Q9: When light travels from one medium to another why does its frequency remains constant but its wavelength varies? Anirudh 9/10/2008
Q10: What is the colour of universal indicator in neutral solutions?? Plz tell me immediately... Ali 6/9/2008
Q11: Please tell me does the speed of light also depends on its source? The greater the energy of the source,the greater the speed of light??? eg., The Sun. Ramakrishna 11/6/2008
Ans: The speed of light is independent of the source, a source with higher intensity will emit more light as compared to one with lower intensity for example Sun emit high intensity of light compared to a bulb but the speed of the light remains the same
Q12: When we apply salt of NaCl or Calcium Chloride on ice. WHy the temperature of ice gets reduced as low as -55'C? Plz tell me in detail, what is the reason? Ahsan 3/5/2008
Q13: Plz tell me that When a room is fully lighted, we cannot see the dust particles with naked eyes in the room but when we see a beam of light in a dark room, then we can see a large number of dust particles moving in air. Why it happen so? Ahsan 13/1/2008
Ans: Dust particles scatter light in all directions; they do this for a well-lit room also. We can observe dust particles in a beam of light in dark background as they are scattering light and we are referencing this against the dark background. But when you light up the background, the light falling is equal at every point and even though dust particle still scatter light but this light loses it shine against other uniform lighting. Hence, dust particles are not visible in a well-lit room.
Q14: can u give me a number of sites that shows examples and pictorial representation so it will help me grasp the concept? Dana 25/9/2007
Ans: Why you did not like ours ;), actually a good place to start is msn Encarta or Wikipedia, they will give some details, hyperphysics site is another good one., search them in google to locate the sites
Q15: I want to know that there is a light in refrigerator but not in a freezer. WHY?? Ahsan 22/9/2007
Ans: There are two factors 1) Thermal expansion 2) Condensation. Freezer is opened for short periods. The temperature in the freezer is minus 20 degree Celsius or lower. An incandescent bulb lights up at 2000 deg C filament temperature, with glass cover at 200 deg C. Rapid cooling causes lot of surface stresses leading to fracture. Deposition of condensation, on the surface of bulb leads to uneven expansion, leading to breaking of glass or filament this leads to frequent failure of bulbs
Q16: why do you sometimes just give a blank bar as an answer??? deena 20/9/2007
Ans: A blank bar shows that answer is pending. Your questions are passed on to our in-house and offsite researchers, usually they answer it within 3-4 days, and if their workload is heavy, they take longer. At times, if the deadline of 15 days passes without it being answered or a satisfactory answer, we either delete the question or resubmit it to another researcher. Frequently it happens that there are so many questions asked that we get overwhelmed and the questions pile up.
Q17: how can i study physics Dana 20/9/2007
Ans: Physics requires imagination for understanding it, because most of the concepts are representation of real life. However, the problem comes in when invisible forces, difficult equations, formula and derivations get involved. One of the way out is to try and perform small experiments to “see” the problem otherwise try to visualize the problem, a number of sites on the net show examples and pictorial representation, this will help you grasp the fundamental concepts and you will start liking physic
Q18: what is a critical angle?? can you show me a brief diagram deena 20/9/2007
Ans: The critical angle is defined as the angle of incidence that produces an angle of refraction of 90-degrees. When a light ray approaches a less dense medium (air) from a denser medium (water) the bending is toward the surface. At a certain angle, the bending will be so high that the refracted beam will be directed right along the surface (angle of refraction is 90 degree to Normal) so none of it will get out into the air, the angle of incidence will then be the critical angle.
Q19: when do we use the formula of the refractive index and what is the formula?? Mia 20/9/2007
Ans: The formula is used find the refractive index of a particular medium; this is employed in cutting of gemstones and crystals, and in engineering optical cables. To find n = Sine I / Sine R, Where n is the refractive index, Sine I is the sine of the angle of incidence, and Sine R is the sine of the angle of refraction. (This is Snell’s law)
Q20: Thank you very much for your helped me a lot...thanks again! Ahsan 3/7/2007
Ans: Hi Ahsan, Keep putting forward questions and your praise has given all of us at research team a boost, thanks - Admin
Q21: Micrography, Microscope, cells. What name of a biologist comes in mind with the help of these hints. I have to reply this to someone. kindly tell me. Thanks! Ahsan 1/7/2007
Ans: Keith R. Porter - published the first electron micrograph of an intact cell = it was a fibroplast from chick embryo
Q22: Is There any contribution related to the "Theory of Relativity" by any Pakistani Scientist who was also a reknown mathematician. Kindly reply this. Ahsan 1/7/2007
Ans: Mr. Abdus Salam - receiveda Nobel Prize in 1979 for Physics for his work in formulating the electroweak theory, which explains the unity of the weak nuclear force and electromagnetism. He was a professor of mathematics in 1951–54 in Pakistan and then went to Cambridge to teach mathematics
Q23: What is optical zooming Ahsan 24/6/2007
Ans: In optical zoom, the lens moves (the focal length changes) to bring you closer to the subject; you can get a sharp high quality picture from a distance. In digital zoom, the camera does not zoom but crops a portion of the image and then enlarges it back to size; the picture is blurry due to pixelation (the distance between pixels increases). This can be done in any image editing software also, thus, same sized zoomed image will be much clearer in optical zoom as compared to digital one.
Q24: In astrology what is meant by the distance,"Goldy locks". Plz tell me in detail. Ahsan 16/6/2007
Ans: The Goldilocks Zone is a habitable zone in space where the temperature and climatic conditions are just right for life. The term derives from the story of Goldilocks, who preferred porridge that was neither too hot nor not too cold. Earth is an example it is between Venus an inferno world and the frigid world of Mars. Here or there would make it inhabitable. One of the criterions of Goldilocks zone is presence of liquid water on surface. Scientists look for such zones in space.
Q25: How many types of a lens. Plz tell me in detail. Ahsan 14/4/2007
Ans: Classifying them according to their curvature of optical surfaces, they are : biconvex (or convex) if both surfaces are convex, likewise, if the optical surfaces are concave, it is biconcave (or just concave). If one of the surfaces is flat, the lens is plano-convex or plano-concave. If it has one surface convex and the other concave, it is convex-concave.
Q26: I am 15 years old. My eyesight is weak about -4. When it was start it was only -0.75 & later it become weak & weak. Tell me why is it happening. Kindly tell me about"How can I carrect my eyesight ahsan 14/4/2007
Ans: Ahsan, the eyes could weaken due to genetic factors, medical condition or their usage ( example : watching TV from close and continuously). An eye doctor or opthlmologist can diagnose your ailment correctly, we suggest that you see a "Real" Doctor for your problem and its cure.

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