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You are indoors on a sunny day. A beam of sunlight through a window lights up a section of the floor. How would you draw this sunbeam? You might draw a series of parallel lines showing the path of the sunlight from the window to the floor. This is not exactly accurate – no matter how hard you look, you will not find unique lines of light in the sunbeam! However, this is a good way to draw light. It is also a good way to model light geometrically, as we will see in this chapter.

These narrow, imaginary lines of light are called light rays . Since light is an electromagnetic wave, you could think of a light ray as the path of a point on the crest of a wave. Or, you could think of a light ray as the path taken by a miniscule particle that carries light. We will always draw them the same way: as straight lines between objects, images, and optical devices.

We can use light rays to model mirrors, lenses, telescopes, microscopes, and prisms. The study of how light interacts with materials is optics . When dealing with light rays, we are usually interested in the shape of a material and the angles at which light rays hit it. From these angles, we can work out, for example, the distance between an object and its reflection. We therefore refer to this kind of optics as geometrical optics .

Light rays

In physics we use the idea of a light ray to indicate the direction that light travels. Light rays are lines with arrows and are used to show the path that light travels. In [link] , the light rays from the object enters the eye and the eye sees the object.

The most important thing to remember is that we can only see an object when light from the object enters our eyes. The object must be a source of light (for example a light bulb) or else it must reflect light from a source (for example the moon), and the reflected light enters our eyes.

We cannot see an object unless light from that object enters our eyes.
Light ray

Light rays are straight lines with arrows to show the path of light.

We can only see an object when light from that object enters our eyes. We draw light as lines with arrows to show the direction the light travels. When the light travels from the object to the eye, the eye can see the object. Light rays entering the eye from the cart are shown as dashed lines. The second wheel of the cart will be invisible as no straight, unobstructed lines exist between it and the eye.
Light rays are not an exact description of a general source of light. They are merely used to show the path that light travels.

Investigation : light travels in straight lines


You will need a candle, matches and three sheets of paper.


  1. Make a small hole in the middle of each of the three sheets of paper.
  2. Light the candle.
  3. Look at the burning candle through the hole in the first sheet of paper.
  4. Place the second sheet of paper between you and the candle so that you can still see the candle through the holes.
  5. Now do the same with the third sheet so that you can still see the candle. The sheets of paper must not touch each other.
    Light travels in straight lines
  6. What do you notice about the holes in the paper?

Questions & Answers

how do they get the third part x = (32)5/4
kinnecy Reply
can someone help me with some logarithmic and exponential equations.
Jeffrey Reply
sure. what is your question?
okay, so you have 6 raised to the power of 2. what is that part of your answer
I don't understand what the A with approx sign and the boxed x mean
it think it's written 20/(X-6)^2 so it's 20 divided by X-6 squared
I'm not sure why it wrote it the other way
I got X =-6
ok. so take the square root of both sides, now you have plus or minus the square root of 20= x-6
oops. ignore that.
so you not have an equal sign anywhere in the original equation?
Commplementary angles
Idrissa Reply
im all ears I need to learn
right! what he said ⤴⤴⤴
what is a good calculator for all algebra; would a Casio fx 260 work with all algebra equations? please name the cheapest, thanks.
Kevin Reply
a perfect square v²+2v+_
Dearan Reply
kkk nice
Abdirahman Reply
algebra 2 Inequalities:If equation 2 = 0 it is an open set?
Kim Reply
or infinite solutions?
The answer is neither. The function, 2 = 0 cannot exist. Hence, the function is undefined.
Embra Reply
if |A| not equal to 0 and order of A is n prove that adj (adj A = |A|
Nancy Reply
rolling four fair dice and getting an even number an all four dice
ramon Reply
Kristine 2*2*2=8
Bridget Reply
Differences Between Laspeyres and Paasche Indices
Emedobi Reply
No. 7x -4y is simplified from 4x + (3y + 3x) -7y
Mary Reply
is it 3×y ?
Joan Reply
J, combine like terms 7x-4y
Bridget Reply
how do you translate this in Algebraic Expressions
linda Reply
Need to simplify the expresin. 3/7 (x+y)-1/7 (x-1)=
Crystal Reply
. After 3 months on a diet, Lisa had lost 12% of her original weight. She lost 21 pounds. What was Lisa's original weight?
Chris Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
many many of nanotubes
what is the k.e before it land
what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
I'm interested in nanotube
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply
what is nano technology
Sravani Reply
what is system testing?
preparation of nanomaterial
Victor Reply
Yes, Nanotechnology has a very fast field of applications and their is always something new to do with it...
Himanshu Reply
good afternoon madam
what is system testing
what is the application of nanotechnology?
In this morden time nanotechnology used in many field . 1-Electronics-manufacturad IC ,RAM,MRAM,solar panel etc 2-Helth and Medical-Nanomedicine,Drug Dilivery for cancer treatment etc 3- Atomobile -MEMS, Coating on car etc. and may other field for details you can check at Google
anybody can imagine what will be happen after 100 years from now in nano tech world
after 100 year this will be not nanotechnology maybe this technology name will be change . maybe aftet 100 year . we work on electron lable practically about its properties and behaviour by the different instruments
name doesn't matter , whatever it will be change... I'm taking about effect on circumstances of the microscopic world
how hard could it be to apply nanotechnology against viral infections such HIV or Ebola?
silver nanoparticles could handle the job?
not now but maybe in future only AgNP maybe any other nanomaterials
I'm interested in Nanotube
this technology will not going on for the long time , so I'm thinking about femtotechnology 10^-15
can nanotechnology change the direction of the face of the world
Prasenjit Reply
At high concentrations (>0.01 M), the relation between absorptivity coefficient and absorbance is no longer linear. This is due to the electrostatic interactions between the quantum dots in close proximity. If the concentration of the solution is high, another effect that is seen is the scattering of light from the large number of quantum dots. This assumption only works at low concentrations of the analyte. Presence of stray light.
Ali Reply
the Beer law works very well for dilute solutions but fails for very high concentrations. why?
bamidele Reply
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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