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MCAT Question A Day - 9/3/13 - Answer!

The index of refraction for water is 1.33 and that for glass is 1.50. A light ray strikes the water/glass boundary with an incident angle of 30.0° on the water side. Which statement is most likely true for its refracted angle in the glass?

A.  The angle of refraction is 26.3°.
B.  The angle of refraction is 34.7°.
C.  The angle of refraction is 30.0°.
D.  The angle of refraction is 60.0°.

The correct answer is (A). Snell’s law is: 

n1 sin(theta1) = n2 sin(theta2)
1.33 sin 30° = 1.50 sin (theta2)

Since n1 < n2, then sin(theta1) > sin(theta2). For sin 30° > sin(theta2), 30° must be greater than

(theta2), for which choice (A) is the only reasonable answer.