Refraction and Diffraction

Refraction“The angle to which light is deflected.”

Diffraction – Is defined as the bending of light waves around the corners of an obstacle.”

The image below is of the passage of a monochromatic ray of light to a glass prism where, according to current theory, the perfectly linear ray is refracted immediately on entry at its surface and on leaving is again instantaneously refracted on exit out into the atmosphere .

Diagram 1

Diagram 2 below is a representation of the transmission of three parallel rays of light, through the currently accepted atomic structure of vacuous ‘kinetic’ gases, towards a glass prism, and rays B and C passing in the closer proximity of the top edge of the glass prism are observed to be diffracted to differing extents as indicated, while ray A is passing above it at an elevation at which there is no observable diffractive effect.

(Note that the atmospheric atoms/molecules depicted in these diagrams are not to any scale and are only indicative.)

Diagram 2

The image below, Diagram 3, is of the same prism, where a perfectly linear ray of light, D, is passing through this hypothetical atomic structure of the atmosphere, which ray is impacting directly onto the surface of the prism at precisely the same initially projected angle as those of rays A, B & C.

According to current theory at this point ray D is immediately and instantaneously, refracted into the glass at an angle which is directly proportional to the density of the glass.

After which, on passing linearly through the glass and reaching the opposite surface, the ray is then again instantaneously deflected on its exit out into the lower density of atmospheric gases.

Diagram 3

It is evident that if rays B and C are influenced into deflecting from their initial directions in their passage through the gases immediately above the solid mass of the prism, then the rays D and E, as indicated in Diagram 4 below, will be affected in precisely the same manner in the immediate vicinity of the prism and will be also be deflected within these gases prior to their coming into contact with the surface of the glass.

And these rays, on exiting from the opposite side, will be similarly deflected in their subsequent passage through these external gases.

Diagram 4

In this respect, in his extensive experiments, Newton observed that a ray of light is deflected before it enters a prism, and that this can only be due to its interactions with the atmospheric gases in the vicinity of the surface.

if a ray move obliquely through such an unevenly dense medium it must be incurved as it is found to be, by observation in water, whose lower parts were made gradually more salt, and so more dense than the upper”

and the refraction I conceive to proceed from the continual incurvation of the ray ”

In this context it been known for centuries that, away from the observers zenith, light is progressively refracted in its passage down through the atmosphere, which is due to the increasing density of the atmospheric gases, so that corrections have to be made for the observed positions of celestial bodies.

The image below is copied from the Admiralty Manual of Navigation 1954.


And today, it is now proven that light is coincidentally slowed in its passage down through and into the Earth’s atmosphere, which can only be due to the progressive increase in the density of the atmospheric gases.

These images below depict the passage of a ray of light from a star down through the atmosphere to an observer at the surface, the red stars being the observed positions.

Image B is an enlargement of part of A, where the density of the atmosphere is artificially separated into sections as in the Admiralty manual. But of course the density of the atmosphere increases progressively with the reduction in altitude down to the surface and so the curve is parabolic, as is depicted in C.

It is therefore obvious that the density of the atmospheric gases will progressively increase down to the matter at the surface, and that the increase in resistance and the reduction in velocity will be proportionate to the density of this matter and accordingly the refraction of light will be proportionate to these densities.

For example in the close vicinity of surfaces, those of liquids such as water, bromine and mercury and solids such as glass, diamond, granite or lead, the densities of gases will increase in proportion to their diverse densities. Therefore the velocities, and accordingly any angular deflections, of rays of light impacting these various surfaces will differ in concert.

As there are no natural circumstances where gases or liquids can be assumed to be of perfectly consistent densities, then the passage of rays of light through matter cannot be assumed to propagate perfectly linearly, however no deflection is observable in the transit through solid translucent matter of a greater consistencies, such as crystal glass.

It is important to note that the consistencies of solids, even that of diamond, cannot be assumed to be perfectly consistent, as in all natural cases some contaminants will be present.

It is evident from all the above observations that light is at all times interacting directly with gaseous and liquid matter and is directly influenced by the variations in their densities.

The progressive increases in the densities of the atmosphere will continue to the surface and there will be no point where this progression ceases to act within these gases, whether the surface encountered is composed of solids or liquids of varying densities.

And so the velocity of light from the sun will be progressively slowed down to the earth’s surface and, away from the vertical, will be refracted progressively and continuously down to the point where it is in direct contact with this surface.

As this surface can be of differing densities, such as those of water or solid matter, the increase in the densities of gases in direct contact with these will also vary and the velocities and refraction of light will accordingly be affected.

Examples are the observed variations in refraction at the surfaces of water, glass and diamond of masses of 1, 2.5 and 3.5 g/cm³ respectively, as in the diagrams below, where an incident angle of light of 45 degrees results in respective refractions of 32°, 28° and 17° to the normal.

The image below is from a textbook and depicts the currently accepted tracking of a perfectly linear ray of light through the atmosphere to the surface of water and a linear progression down into the water.

The image below is of the transmission of a reflected rays of light upwards to an observer on land from a fish in water.

The generally accepted progress of this is shown in the black dashed lines as in the diagram below where again this emergent ray is presented as being linear at all times and is immediately deflected at the surface.

The parabolic red dashed line is that of a ray of light reflected from the fish traveling upwards through the varying densities of seawater to the surface and which, when it is emitted up into the atmospheric gases that are also of progressively decreasing densities, is also subjected to a level of refraction that is dependent on these densities.

The density of surface seawater ranges from about 1020 to 1029 kg/m3, depending on the temperature and salinity. At a temperature of 25 °C, salinity of 35 g/kg and 1 atm pressure, the density of seawater is 1023.6  kg/m3.

Deep in the ocean, under high pressure, seawater can reach a density of 1050 kg/m3 or higher.”

The images below are of the variations in the incidental angles of rays of light emitted from water, where there is no direct mathematical relationship between the incident and the refracted angles.

However if this is considered when the atmospheric gases are of progressively increasing densities towards the surface, then the variations in density experienced by a ray of light at an incident angle of 5 degrees is significantly lower than that of one at 45 degrees and so the overall refraction is reduced.

The first image below is a copy from a textbook of the interactions of a ray of light emitted out from water to the surface, where the rays are depicted as being linear. Clearly these emergent rays are moving upwards from the surface into decreasing densities of air, and these rays will be fractionally influenced and progressively diverted.

The second diagram depicts such interactions where apart from the ray emerging parallel to the surface the refractive curves are parabolic.

The image above is of the refraction of light that is often seen on water due to the reverse occurring on these surfaces, this is also seen on land in mirages, as depicted in the following diagram.

The image below indicates the progressive refraction of a ray of light down (or up) through the atmosphere into water and sea water.

The density of surface seawater ranges from about 1020 to 1029 kg/m3, depending on the temperature and salinity. At a temperature of 25 °C, salinity of 35 g/kg and 1 atm pressure, the density of seawater is 1023.6  kg/m3.

Deep in the ocean, under high pressure, seawater can reach a density of 1050 kg/m3 or higher.”

Everything you’ve learned in school as ‘obvious’ becomes less and less obvious as you begin to study the universe. For example, there are no solids in the universe. There’s not even a suggestion of a solid. There are no absolute continuums. There are no surfaces. There are no straight lines.”

R. Buckminster Fuller (1895–1983)

The similar situation occurs in case of light – it bends on the borderline between two media in a way that will guarantee the shortest journey possible through the medium in which it moves slower (with bigger refraction coefficient, normally with higher density). As a result, light deflects towards the medium of higher density. In nature, a borderline between the media is rarely “clear”. Therefore, we do not observe a sudden change of light, but a “smooth” version of refraction – light changes direction gradually. In the described experiment we deal with such a situation. The beam light, as shown in figure 3, gradually deflects from a direction parallel to the water level. You can observe an analogous situation in much larger scale in everyday life. The Sun, which is actually located below the horizon line, is registered by our brains as if it was above the horizon. It is connected with the variable density of air in our atmosphere, ranging from highly rarefied in upper layers to extremely dense near the Earth’s surface. Deflection of rays is known as refraction. On figure 4 you can see a diagram of such a phenomenon.”

Krzystof Pawlowski, Centre for Theoretical Physics, Warsaw

In conclusion, and in agreement with experiment, the combined direction and the velocity of a ray of light are dependent upon the density of the medium, and there is no situation in nature where the density of a fluid medium is absolutely consistent.

Therefore, in no such circumstance, does a ray of light propagate perfectly linearly, therefore the current belief that its direction alters instantaneously at the surface of translucent solid matter is false.

With respect to refraction there is at no point in any circumstance an instantaneous refraction of light, it is not possible.

Roger Munday

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