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Translations of Encyclopedia about Physics


Laws of Light Reflection

During a light reflection, which is when a light wave does not pass through a boundary surface of two different optical environments but rather reflects back into the space of the originating environment, certain laws apply. The intensity and the angle of reflection depends on the density and surface of the boundary as well as on the angle at which the wave falls.

The reflection of light rays can be easily demonstrated. For example, if a light ray falls on a flat mirror, the ray is reflected. The line perpendicular to the surface of a flat surface jutting out from the point of impact of a light ray is referred to as the perpendicular line of impact, or the normal. The angle at which the light ray hits the surface compared to the normal or the perpendicular line of impact is called the angle of impact and the angle between the reflecting ray and the normal is called the angle of reflection. By reflecting light, a flat mirror creates an image of the object which has the same size and distance as the object itself. However, the image created in this manner is opposite to that of reality, meaning that the left side becomes the right and the right left.

On a flat surface, light rays always reflect at the same angle at which they impacted the surface, a quality which makes up one of the laws of light reflection.

1. The angle of impact is the same as the angle of reflection.

2. An impacting ray, a reflecting ray and a perpendicular line of impact all fall in a single plane.

Also, parallel falling light rays remain parallel when reflected. If a surface is not even or flat, light rays falling on it are dispersed when reflected, referred to as a diffused reflection.

According to the laws of light reflection, light rays reflect also off of curved surfaces. There are two types of curved surfaces: concave surfaces (convexed inwards) and convex surfaces (convexed outwards). Concave surfaces reflect light rays such that they intersect through a focal point in front of the curved surface (in our case a mirror). In this case, the resulting image (its size) depends on the distance of the reflected image from the mirror. With convex surfaces, the focal point is located behind the surface (mirror) and the image reflected appears smaller than the object reflected, while maintaining its proportions.

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