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Smile for the Camera! by Ryan Michael Brohm

1st Place - Contrived Category

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School: Pleasant Valley High School

Teacher: Ian Spangenberg

This is a photo of a droplet of as it splashed out of a small container of water. There are two things happening. First, the attraction between water molecules allows water to form spherical droplets. This, in turn, creates the second concept, a lens effect. The water droplet acts as a converging lens. As light transfers from one medium to another, air to water, the light encounters a change in density. This change in density, along with the curved surface of the drop, cause the light to change direction. Light transferring from the air to the water drop refracts towards the normal to the surface. It then continues in a straight path to the other side of the droplet. Again, it encounters a boundary between densities. But this time, as light travels from water to air, it refracts away from the normal to the surface. This bending of light creates a focal point that is between the drop and the camera, resulting in a negative focal length, showing an inverted and smaller image. Doesn’t physics just make you smile?

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