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MCAT

Unit 3: Lesson 1

Chemical and physical sciences practice passage questions

An experiment with light rays and a prism

Problem

A student is conducting an experiment to explore the angles made by reflected and refracted light. To do this the student uses a laser to fire a ray of light toward a rectangular prism that has an index of refraction of nstart subscript, start text, p, end text, end subscript. The laser light first strikes the surface of the prism at an angle θstart subscript, start text, 1, end text, end subscript. Some of the light is reflected off of the front diagonal surface of the prism. The rest of the light is refracted through the prism at an angle θstart subscript, start text, 3, end text, end subscript. This refracted light makes its way to the backside of the prism at an angle θstart subscript, start text, 4, end text, end subscript and is refracted once more from the prism into the air at an angle of θstart subscript, start text, 5, end text, end subscript. This process is represented in the diagram below. Dotted lines are not part of the experiment and are shown in the diagram for reference purposes only. The right angle symbol is used to represent angles of 90degrees. Angles shown in the diagram are not necessarily drawn exactly to proportion.
What is the value of angle θstart subscript, 2, end subscript?
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