Differences

Difference between reflection and refraction

Difference between reflection and refractionWe explain the difference between reflection and refraction with table. Have you ever wondered how we can perceive and see different things? Reflection and refraction are phenomena that depend on the properties of light, which is why we can see different things.

Reflection is the phenomenon when light striking a surface or medium bounces off the medium itself, instead of passing through it. This is what makes up the images and these images are commonly known as reflection.

Refraction is when the speed of propagation of light rays changes when hitting a medium and they change their direction along with it. But they do not form a perfect image of the object, rather they form a distorted one.

The difference between reflection and refraction is that reflection gives the perfect image or representation of the image while refraction provides a distorted image.

Comparison table between reflection and refraction

Comparison parameters Refraction Refraction

Sense When the light beam hits a surface, it bounces off the same medium. The light beam, upon impact, changes its speed and direction of propagation.
Surface It mainly occurs on a shiny surface like a mirror. Occurs mainly on transparent surfaces like a lens
Angle of incidence It is equal to the angle of reflection It is not equal to the angle of refraction.
Imaging A perfect or near perfect representation of the real object The image formed is distorted and depends on the angle of incidence.
Velocity of propagation No change is recorded The speed of propagation changes.

What is reflection?

Reflection is the phenomenon of light when light rays strike one medium, but bounce off the same medium instead of entering the second medium.

This phenomenon is commonly seen on smooth, shiny surfaces. These surfaces usually reflect most of the incident light rays forming a perfect or near perfect replica or image of the object. The number of reflected rays not only depends on the smoothness of the surface, but also on the physical properties of the object to be reflected.

Reflection works on the laws of reflection. This law states that the angle of incidence is always equal to the angle of reflection. This law also states that the incident ray, the reflected ray and the normal ray must always be in the same plane.

Human eyes can perceive the color of various objects due to the reflection and reflective properties of each object. Objects absorb some and reflect some of the light rays of a specific wavelength. The reflected rays are what determine the color of an object.

What is refraction?

Refraction is when light rays striking a surface or medium, instead of bouncing, enter the medium but also experience a change in their speed and direction of propagation.

This phenomenon is commonly observed on transparent surfaces such as glass or lenses. Surfaces instead of reflecting light waves enter the medium to form a distorted image of the object. Image distortion depends on the angle of incidence and the angle of refraction.

Similar to reflection, refraction also works by laws known as the laws of refraction. This law states that the common relationship between the angle of incidence and the angle of refraction is known as the index of refraction. It measures the refractive characteristic of the medium and the surface. Also, the angle of incidence, the angle of refraction, and the normal must be in the same plane.

This phenomenon is what helps the human eye to perceive different objects around us. Light rays reflected by different objects are refracted by the lens of our eyes, which then converges on the retina to form the image. For the corrected lens, light rays undergo two refractions before converging on the retina.

Main differences between Reflection and refraction

  • Reflection and refraction treat light rays differently when striking the surface. During reflection, the light bounces off the same medium. But during refraction, the light enters the medium but undergoes a change in the speed and direction of propagation.
  • Although both are properties of light rays, they are seen on different surfaces. A shiny surface such as a mirror is used for reflection to occur. But for refraction, a transparent surface like a lens is used.
  • Since the two depend on two different laws, the properties of the angle of reflection and refraction are also different. The angle of reflection is always equal to the angle of incidence of the light beam when striking the surface but the angle of refraction is not equal to the angle of incidence during the refraction phenomenon because it is seen that the light beam changes direction.
  • The speed of propagation during reflection does not change since there are no changes in the medium. But for refraction, since the direction and the medium change, this changes the refractive index and thus also changes the speed of propagation of light rays.
  • The propagation medium of the light beam does not change during reflection, because the light rays only bounce back to form a replica of the image in the middle. But during refraction, there is a change in the medium because the light rays enter the second medium in incidence.

Final Thought

Reflection and refraction are phenomena related to the properties of light rays.

Reflection is when the light beam bounces off a surface. Depending on the surface and characteristics of the object, all or part of it is reflected. The reflected rays are what determine the color of an object.

Refraction is when the light beam changes its speed and direction when it hits a surface. Refracted rays, unlike reflected rays, form distorted images of the object rather than a perfect replica of it. This is the phenomenon that helps the eyes to perceive the image of the object.

Together, reflection and refraction give vision and colors to the boring world around us.

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