We see a variety of objects in the world around us. However, we are unable to see anything in a dark room. On lighting up the room, things become visible. What makes things visible? During the day, the sunlight helps us to see objects. An object reflects light that falls on it. This reflected light, when received by our eyes, enables us to see things. We are able to see through a transparent medium as light is transmitted through it. There are a number of common wonderful phenomena associated with light such as image formation by mirrors, the twinkling of stars, the beautiful colours of a rainbow, bending of light by a medium and so on. A study of the properties of light helps us to explore them.
A highly polished surface, such as a mirror, reflects most of the light
falling on it. You are already familiar with the laws of reflection of light.
Let us recall these laws –
(i) The angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection, and
(ii) The incident ray, the normal to the mirror at the point of incidence and the reflected ray, all lie in the same plane.
The reflecting surface of a spherical mirror may be curved inwards or outwards. A spherical mirror, whose reflecting surface is curved inwards, that is, faces towards the centre of the sphere, is called a concave mirror. A spherical mirror whose reflecting surface is curved outwards, is called a convex mirror. The schematic representation of these mirrors is shown in Fig. 10.1. You may note in these diagrams that the back of the mirror is shaded.
Light seems to travel along straight-line paths in a transparent medium. What happens when light enters from one transparent medium to another? Does it still move along a straight-line path or change its direction? We shall recall some of our day-to-day experiences.