Science Articles

REFLECTION OF LIGHT: LAWS AND TYPES

As we all know that light is what enables us to view objects. If there is no light, we can’t see anything and the world seems dark. If we enter a dark room, without light, nothing seems visible. As soon as we switch on the light, everything becomes visible. This is because reflection of light. Reflection of light is the property because of which it bounces back from the surface of the object. This bounced back light is called the reflected light and when it hits our eyes, we can perceive the object. There are two types of rays involved.


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As we all know that light is what enables us to view objects. If there is no light, we can’t see anything and the world seems dark. If we enter a dark room, without light, nothing seems visible. As soon as we switch on the light, everything becomes visible. This is because reflection of light. Reflection of light is the property because of which it bounces back from the surface of the object. This bounced back light is called the reflected light and when it hits our eyes, we can perceive the object. There are two types of rays involved.

INCIDENT RAY

The ray that hits the surface (boundary between the two optical mediums) is called the incident ray. The angle between the incident ray and the normal to the surface is called angle of incidence.

REFLECTED RAY

When incident ray reflects back from the surface, it becomes reflected ray. The angle between reflected ray and the normal to the surface is called angle of reflection. For example, in the mirrors, the light that falls on the mirror is reflected back by the mirrors. That’s why we are able to see our images in the mirrors. The rays that fall on the mirrors are incident rays and the ones which come back are reflected rays.

THE LAWS OF REFLECTION 

The laws of reflection states that –

  • The law of reflection states that when light reflects off from the surface, the incident ray, the normal to the surface and the reflected ray, all of them lies in the same plane.
  • The angle of incidence is equal to angle of reflection.

TYPES OF REFLECTION

There are primarily two types of reflection.

  • Specular reflection – When light hits the smooth surface, reflected light rays travel in the same direction. For example, in case of mountains covered by lakes, we often see pictures of mountain appearing in lake. This is because lakes have smooth surface that reflects light in same direction and as such perfect image of the mountains is formed.
  • Diffuse reflection – When light hits any rough surface, reflect light rays scatter in all directions. This happens for any image we are able to see. When light hits any bird, it is scattered in all directions, it enters our eyes, hits the retina, an electrical signal is passed to brain which processes and interprets the signal to an image.