How is the refractive index of a medium related to the speed of light?



  1. 0 Votes

    Read the Wikipedia article on this, for starters. Quote:

    “A widespread misconception is that since, according to the theory of relativity, nothing can travel faster than the speed of light in vacuum, the refractive index cannot be lower than 1. This is erroneous since the refractive index measures the phase velocity of light, which does not carry energy or information, the two things limited in propagation speed.”

    This is an example in Wikipedia where it’s wise to chase down the hyperlinks to other Wiki articles, read the talk page (below) and especially, to check the references yourself. (One of the major failings of Wikipedia is that many of the references are broken or do not say the same thing as the article.) In essense, this topic is far too complicated and specialized for many Internet writers to address. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop them, they try to answer anyhow. (Notice I didn’t answer directly.) Good hunting!

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