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Bill Nye: Bending Light

Bill Nye: Bending Light

Author: Bill Nye

This tutorial by Bill Nye explains how water can act as a mirror, and "carry" a beam of light through a stream of water. Learn the concepts in physics and the physical science that explains the mind bending phenomenon of bending light.

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Bending Light


Send a light beam through a water stream.

What You Need:

1. a strong flashlight 
2. an empty soda can

What You Do:

1. Take the empty soda can and have an adult poke a hole in the side of the can near the bottom with a strong sharp pencil.
2. Ask your adult to make sure any sharp edges at the hole are pushed into the can so it’s safe for you to put your finger on the hole. 
3. Fill the can with water, holding your finger over the hole. Turn out the overhead lights and stand over a sink.
4. Put a flashlight over the top of the can, and take your finger off the hole. 
5. Where the water stream lands, you’ll see a beam of light.

What’s Happening?

The light from the flashlight bends and follows the water out of the hole in the can. The inside of the can and the surface of the water stream act like mirrors to reflect the beam of light. The light bounces around inside the water, and follows it wherever it flows.

Bending Light

Here's the same Home Demo in convenient PDF form!