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In the investigation you will notice that the holes in the paper need to be in a straight line. This shows that light travels in a straight line. We cannot see around corners. This also proves that light does not bend around a corner, but travels straight.

Investigation : light travels in straight lines

On a sunny day, stand outside and look at something in the distance, for example a tree, a flower or a car. From what we have learnt, we can see the tree, flower or car because light from the object is entering our eye. Now take a sheet of paper and hold it about 20 cm in front of your face. Can you still see the tree, flower or car? Why not?

[link] shows that a sheet of paper in front of your eye prevents light rays from reaching your eye.

The sheet of paper prevents the light rays from reaching the eye, and the eye cannot see the object.


Objects cast shadows when light shines on them. This is more evidence that light travels in straight lines. The picture below shows how shadows are formed.

Ray diagrams

A ray diagram is a drawing that shows the path of light rays. Light rays are drawn using straight lines and arrow heads. The figure below shows some examples of ray diagrams.

Light rays

  1. Give evidence to support the statement: “Light travels in straight lines”. Draw a ray diagram to prove this.


When you smile into a mirror, you see your own face smiling back at you. This is caused by the reflection of light rays on the mirror. Reflection occurs when a light ray bounces off a surface.


In  Transverse Pulses and Transverse Waves we saw that when a pulse or wave strikes a surface it is reflected . This means that waves bounce off things. Sound waves bounce off walls, light waves bounce off mirrors, radar waves bounce off aeroplanes and it can explain how bats can fly at night and avoid things as thin as telephone wires. The phenomenon of reflection is a very important and useful one.

We will use the following terminology. The incoming light ray is called the incident ray . The light ray moving away from the surface is the reflected ray . The most important characteristic of these rays is their angles in relation to the reflecting surface. These angles are measured with respect to the normal of the surface. The normal is an imaginary line perpendicular to the surface. The angle of incidence, θ i is measured between the incident ray and the surface normal. The angle of reflection, θ r is measured between the reflected ray and the surface normal. This is shown in [link] .

When a ray of light is reflected, the reflected ray lies in the same plane as the incident ray and the normal. This plane is called the plane of incidence and is shown in [link] .

The angles of incidence and reflection are measured with respect to the surface normal.
The plane of incidence is the plane including the incident ray, reflected ray, and the surface normal.

Law of reflection

The Law of Reflection states that the angles of incidence and reflection are always equal and that the reflected ray always lies in the plane of incidence.

Questions & Answers

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.
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
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
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
How can I make nanorobot?
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Maths test. OpenStax CNX. Feb 09, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11236/1.2
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