KiNgToMaTo
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Aug 27, 2007 2:51 pm

I posted ealier, i have another question.

yea here's the thing I learned how to calculate snells law for the project Using a laser to measure the speed of light in jello, i just thought of another problem, i need to explain the problem in the simplest way so that everyone that reads it can understand it or almost understand it, ive done alot of looking and i cant find anything, plz help.

Craig_Bridge
Former Expert
Posts: 1297
Joined: Mon Oct 16, 2006 11:47 am
i need to explain the problem in the simplest way so that everyone that reads it can understand it
That may not be possible outside the scientific community. Even in the scientific community, new theories aren't accepted quickly and over time as more is learned may be found to not quite fit all cases and have to be refined. That is the just part of the scientific process. It is also a challenge for good text book authors, teachers, and professors in conveying commonly accepted theories such as this.

http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/physics/SnellsLaw.html explains that Snell's Law is a boundary condition on wave propagation. Unless you have been exposed to enough calculus to understand boundary problems, this doesn't help. But ignoring that, if you dig deeper into it, you find that Snell's work derives from Fermat's Principle.
http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/physics/FermatsPrinciple.html
Which according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fermat%27s_Principle is a letter about the calculus of optics from 1662 which was immediately rejected
... Fermat's principle can not be the cause, for otherwise we would be attributing knowledge to nature: and here, by nature, we understand only that order and lawfulness in the world, such as it is, which acts without foreknowledge, without choice, but by a necessary determination.
A major part of any successful engineer or scientist's efforts are in publishing their work in such a way that they are understood and accepted. Take a try at it and see if you can explain it to a parent or another student or a teacher other than your science teacher. Then like all good teachers/engineers/scientists evaluating publications, you have to ask enough questions of your participants to determine if they really understood it. Then refine your description untill it works. Good presentations don't usually happen the first time! It is usually an iterative refinment process and finding a common ground to start from is usually one of the key ingredients. After you have refined it, try it on your science teagher or post it here to make sure there isn't anything misleading.
-Craig