Huygens' principle

optics
      in optics, a statement that all points of a wave front of light in a vacuum or transparent medium may be regarded as new sources of wavelets that expand in every direction at a rate depending on their velocities. Proposed by the Dutch mathematician, physicist, and astronomer, Christiaan Huygens, in 1690, it is a powerful method for studying various optical phenomena.

      A surface tangent to the wavelets constitutes the new wave front and is called the envelope of the wavelets. If a medium is homogeneous and has the same properties throughout (i.e., is isotropic), permitting light to travel with the same speed regardless of its direction of propagation, the three-dimensional envelope of a point source will be spherical; otherwise, as is the case with many crystals, the envelope will be ellipsoidal in shape (see double refraction). An extended light source will consist of an infinite number of point sources and may be thought of as generating a plane wave front.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Huygens'principle — Huy·gens principle (hīʹgənz) n. The principle that any point on a wave front of light may be regarded as the source of secondary waves and that the surface that is tangent to the secondary waves can be used to determine the future position of the …   Universalium

  • Huygens principle — Optics, Physics. the principle that all points on a wave front of light are sources of secondary waves and that surfaces tangential to these waves define the position of the wave front at any point in time. [1830 40; named after C. HUYGENS] * * * …   Universalium

  • Huygens principle — Optics, Physics. the principle that all points on a wave front of light are sources of secondary waves and that surfaces tangential to these waves define the position of the wave front at any point in time. [1830 40; named after C. HUYGENS] …   Useful english dictionary

  • Huygens' principle — noun the assumption that each point on a wavefront may be regarded as a source of secondary waves and that the position of the wavefront at a later time is determined by the envelope of these secondary waves; proposed in order to explain the fact …   Wiktionary

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  • Huygens' principle of superposition — noun the displacement of any point due to the superposition of wave systems is equal to the sum of the displacements of the individual waves at that point the principle of superposition is the basis of the wave theory of light • Syn: ↑principle… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Huygens — can refer to: * Christiaan Huygens (1629–1695), Dutch mathematician, physicist and astronomer, son of Constantijn Huygens * Huygens principle * Constantijn Huygens (1596–1687), Dutch poet and composer, father of Christiaan Huygens *… …   Wikipedia

  • Huygens–Fresnel principle — Wave refraction in the manner of Huygens …   Wikipedia

  • Huygens, Christiaan — or Christian Huyghens born April 14, 1629, The Hague died July 8, 1695, The Hague Dutch mathematician, astronomer, and physicist. He was the first to use a pendulum to regulate a clock (1656). He invented a method of grinding and polishing… …   Universalium

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