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Why do hairs floating in a bath make such unusual shadows?

Why do hairs floating in a bath make such unusual shadows?
Joe Beacham from Devon (Age 5-14)


One Response

  1. The unusual shadows are caused by the fact that the hairs are sitting on the surface of the water. When they do that they distort the normally flat surface and we can see the distortion by the way the light is distorted as it travels through the distorted surface. The light is affected both by reflection(which depends on angle of the incident light) and also by refraction at the surface. The amount angle change at Refraction also depends on the angle of incidence.

    Fish use this change to see insects who land on the surface of ponds etc and then try to eat them. Which is why fishermen sometimes use fishing flys to mimic insects on water. The better they mimic the insect on the water surface the more the fish bite.

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