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Comment: Triangulation is a process that can be applied to solve problems in a number of areas of engineering including surveying, construction management, radar, sonar, lidar, etc.


Refraction is a physical phenomenon that occurs when light passes from one transparent medium (such as air) through another (for example, glass.) It is known that light travels at different speeds through different transparent media. The index of refraction of a medium is a measure of how much the speed of light is reduced as it passes through the medium. In the case of glass, the index of refraction is approximately 1.5. This means that light travels as a speed of 1 1 . 5 = 2 3 size 12{ { {1} over {1 "." 5} } = { {2} over {3} } } {} times the speed of light in a vacuum.

Two common properties of transparent materials can be attributed to the index of refraction. One is that light rays change direction as they pass from one medium through another. Secondly, light is partially reflected when it passes from one medium to another medium with a different index of refraction. We will focus on the first of these properties in this reading.

In optics, which is a field of physics, you will learn about Snell's law, which is also known as Descartes' law after the scientist, Rene Descartes . Snell’s law takes the form of an equation that states the relationship between the angle of incidence and the angle of refraction for light passing from one medium to another. Stated mathematically, Snell’s law is

sin ( θ incidence ) sin ( θ refraction ) = c incidence c refraction size 12{ { {"sin" \( θ rSub { size 8{ ital "incidence"} } \) } over {"sin" \( θ rSub { size 8{ ital "refraction"} } \) } } = { {c rSub { size 8{ ital "incidence"} } } over {c rSub { size 8{ ital "refraction"} } } } } {}

It follows that

sin ( θ incidence ) sin ( θ refraction ) = I 2 I 1 size 12{ { {"sin" \( θ rSub { size 8{ ital "incidence"} } \) } over {"sin" \( θ rSub { size 8{ ital "refraction"} } \) } } = { {I rSub { size 8{2} } } over {I rSub { size 8{1} } } } } {}

where I 1 and I 2 size 12{I rSub { size 8{1} } ` ital "and"`I rSub { size 8{2} } } {} are the Index of Refraction of medium 1 and medium 2 respectively.

Consider a situation where light rays pass are shined from air through a tank of water. This situation is illustrated below.

Depiction of light refraction.

The Index of refraction for air is 1.0003 and that of water is 1.3000. Let us assume that the angle that light enters the water is 21 0 40’, what is the angle of refraction, w ?

From Snell’s law, we know

I W I A = sin ( a ) sin ( w ) size 12{ { {I rSub { size 8{W} } } over {I rSub { size 8{A} } } } = { {"sin" \( a \) } over {"sin" \( w \) } } } {}
sin ( w ) = I A I W sin ( a ) size 12{"sin" \( w \) = { {I rSub { size 8{A} } } over {I rSub { size 8{W} } } } `"sin" \( a \) } {}

sin ( w ) = I A I W sin ( a ) size 12{"sin" \( w \) = { {I rSub { size 8{A} } } over {I rSub { size 8{W} } } } `"sin" \( a \) } {}

Substituting in the numerical values for I A , I W and a yield

sin ( w ) = 0 . 2841 size 12{"sin" \( w \) =0 "." "2841"} {}

We now make use of the inverse sine function

w = sin 1 ( 0 . 2841 ) size 12{w="sin" rSup { size 8{ - 1} } \( 0 "." "2841" \) } {}

This leads to the result

w = 16 0 30 ' size 12{w="16" rSup { size 8{0} } `"30" rSup { size 8{'} } } {}

We conclude that the refracted ray will travel through the water at an angle of refraction of 16 0 30’ .


  1. A 50 ft ladder leans against the top of a building which is 30 ft tall. Determine the angle the ladder makes with the horizontal. Also determine the distance from the base of the ladder to the building.
  2. A straight trail leads from the Alpine Hotel at elevation 8,000 feet to a scenic overlook at elevation 11,100 feet. The length of the trail is 14,100 feet. What is the inclination angle β in degrees? What is the value of β in radians?
  3. A ray of light moves from a media whose index of refraction is 1.200 to another whose index of refraction is 1.450. The angle of incidence of the ray as it intersects the interface of the two media is 15 0 . Sketch the geometry of the situation and determine the value of the angle of refraction.
  4. One-link planar robots can be used to place pick up and place parts on work table. A one-link planar robot consists of an arm that is attached to a work table at one end. The other end is left free to rotate about the work space. If l = 5 cm, sketch the position of the robot and determine the ( x, y ) coordinates of point p ( x , y ) for the following values for θ: (50˚, 2π/3 rad, -20˚, and -5 π/4 rad).

One-link planar robot.

Questions & Answers

how can chip be made from sand
Eke Reply
is this allso about nanoscale material
are nano particles real
Missy Reply
Hello, if I study Physics teacher in bachelor, can I study Nanotechnology in master?
Lale Reply
no can't
where is the latest information on a no technology how can I find it
where we get a research paper on Nano chemistry....?
Maira Reply
nanopartical of organic/inorganic / physical chemistry , pdf / thesis / review
what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
no nanotechnology is also a part of physics and maths it requires angle formulas and some pressure regarding concepts
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
has a lot of application modern world
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
ya I also want to know the raman spectra
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
Nasa has use it in the 60's, copper as water purification in the moon travel.
nanocopper obvius
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Can someone give me problems that involes radical expressions like area,volume or motion of pendulum with solution

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Source:  OpenStax, Math 1508 (laboratory) engineering applications of precalculus. OpenStax CNX. Aug 24, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11337/1.3
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