|Topics||Curved Mirrors, Light Waves, Refraction, Refractive Index|
A concave (or converging) mirror bulges inward and focuses reflected light on the mirror's focal point where the mirror's angles of incidence converge. In contrast, a convex (or diverging) mirror bulges outward and diffuses the light waves that strike it. A common use of a concave mirror is in a reflecting telescope, a common use of a convex mirror is in the side view mirror of a car.
Unlike mechanical sound waves that require a physical medium for propagation, light waves are electromagnetic and can travel through empty space. Light waves are also much faster, travelling at 186,000 m/s vs. 343 m/s for sound waves.
Because different materials have different refractive indices, light changes speed when passing from one material to another. This causes the light to bend (refraction) at an angle that depends on the change in refractive index between the materials. The greater the difference, the higher the angle of refraction.
The speed of light varies based on the material that the waves are passing through. The refractive index of a material indicates how easily light travels through it compared to how easily light travels through a vacuum. For example, the refractive index of water is 1.33, meaning that light travels 1.33 times faster in a vacuum than it does in water.