Study Notes On Physics:LIGHT

Here we are providing the short notes on Physics which will be help to crack science part in may examinations like SSC, Railway and other competitive exams.


REFLECTION OF LIGHT (Law of Reflection)

(i) The angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection

(ii) The incident ray, the normal to the mirror at the point of incidence and the reflected ray, all lie in the same plane

Spherical Mirrors & their Uses

Uses of concave mirrors

Concave mirrors are commonly used in torches, search-lights and vehicles headlights to get powerful parallel beams of light.

They are often used as shaving mirrors to see a larger image of the face. The dentists use concave mirrors to see large images of the teeth of patients.

Large concave mirrors are used to concentrate sunlight to produce heat in solar furnaces.

Uses of convex mirrors

Convex mirrors are commonly used as rear-view (wing) mirrors in vehicles, enabling the driver to see traffic behind him/her to facilitate safe driving. They always give an erect, though diminished, image. Also, they have a wider field of view as they are curved outwards. Thus, convex mirrors enable the driver to view much larger area than would be possible with a plane mirror.


when a thick glass slab is placed over some printed matter, the letters appear raised when viewed through the glass slab the bottom of a tank or a pond containing water appears to be raised seen a pencil partly immersed in water in a glass tumbler. It appears to be displaced at the interface of air and water

A lemon kept in water in a glass tumbler appears to be bigger than its actual size, when viewed from the sides.

The following are the laws of refraction of light.

(i) The incident ray, the refracted ray and the normal to the interface of two transparent media at the point of incidence, all lie in the same plane.

(ii) The ratio of sine of angle of incidence to the sine of angle of refraction is a constant, for the light of a given colour and for the given pair of media. This law is also known as Snell’s law of refraction.

If i is the angle of incidence and r is the angle of refraction, then,

Sin i/Sin r = constant

The one with the larger refractive index is optically denser medium than the other. The other medium of lower refractive index is optically rarer. The speed of light is higher in a rarer medium than a denser medium

The light from the Sun constitutes parallel rays of light. These rays were converged by the lens at the sharp bright spot formed on the paper. In fact, the bright spot you got on the paper is a real image of the Sun. The concentration of the sunlight at a point generated heat. This caused the paper to burn.



The prism has probably split the incident white light into a band of colours. the sequence of coloursVIBGYOR . The splitting of light into its component colours is called dispersion.

Different colours of light bend through different angles with respect to the incident ray, as they pass through a prism. The red light bends the least while the violet the most. Thus the rays of each colour emerge along different paths and thus become distinct.It is the band of distinct colours that we see in a spectrum.

A rainbow is a natural spectrum appearing in the sky after a rain shower (Fig. 11.7). It is caused by dispersion of sunlight by tiny water droplets, present in the atmosphere. A rainbow is always formed in a direction opposite to that of the Sun. The water droplets act like small prisms. They refract and disperse the incident sunlight, then reflect it internally, and finally refract it again when it comes out of the raindrop  Due to the dispersion of light and internal reflection, different colours reach the observer’s eye.


The air just above the fire becomes hotter than the air further up. The hotter air is lighter (less dense) than the cooler air above it, and has a refractive index slightly less than that of the cooler air.Since the physical conditions of the refracting medium (air) are not stationary, the apparent position of the object, as seen through the hot air, fluctuate. This wavering is thus an effect of atmospheric refraction (refraction of light by the earth’s atmosphere) .

Twinkling of stars

The twinkling of a star is due to atmospheric refraction of starlight.

The starlight, on entering the earth’s atmosphere, undergoes refraction continuously before it reaches the earth. The atmospheric refraction occurs in a medium of gradually changing refractive index. Since the atmosphere bends starlight  towards the normal, the apparent position of the star is slightly different from its actual position. As the path of rays of light coming from the star goes on varying slightly, thestarlight entering the eye flickers – the star sometimes appears brighter, and at some other time, fainter, which is the twinkling effect.

Advance sunrise and delayed sunset

The Sun is visible to us about 2 minutes before the actual sunrise, and about 2 minutes after the actual sunset because of atmospheric refraction. The time difference between actual sunset and the apparent sunset is about 2 minutes.


The blue colour of the sky, colour of water in deep sea, the reddening of the sun at sunrise and the sunset.

Why is the colour of the clear Sky Blue?

The red light has a wavelength about 1.8 times greater than blue light. Thus, when sunlight passes through the atmosphere, the fine particles in air scatter the blue colour (shorter wavelengths) more strongly than red. The scattered blue light enters our eyes. If the earth had no atmosphere, there would not have been any scattering. Then, the sky would have looked dark. The sky appears dark to passengers flying at very high altitudes, as scattering is not prominent at such heights.

Total Internal Reflection

a)mirage – Desert e.g.

Hotter air is less dense, and has smaller refractive index than the cooler air. On hot summer days, the air near the ground becomes hotter than the air at higher levels noticed that while moving in a bus or a car during a hot summer day, a distant patch of road, especially on a highway, appears to be wet. This is also due to mirage.

  1. b) Diamonds – Their brilliance is mainly due to the total internal reflection of light inside them.
  2. c) Optical fibres too make use of the phenomenon of total internal reflection.Light undergoes repeated total internal reflections along the length of the fibre there is no appreciable loss in the intensity of the light signal.

Tyndall Effect

The earth’s atmosphere is a heterogeneous mixture of minute particles like smoke, tiny water droplets, suspended particles of dust and molecules of air.When a beam of light strikes such fine particles, the path of the beam becomes visible.

when a fine beam of sunlight enters a smoke-filled room through a small hole. Tyndall effect can also be observed when sunlight passes through a canopy of a dense forest.

The colour of the scattered light depends on the size of the scattering particles. Very fine particles scatter mainly blue light while particles of larger size scatter light of longer wavelengths.



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