THE MENLO ROUNDTABLE
Despite these inaccuracies, by the end of the experiment it was clear that salinity and temperature do aect the refraction of light in water. Although errors were present, I consider this experiment to be an overall success. Still, if I had the opportunity to perform it again there are a few things I would change. First, I would have taped down the “on” button on the laser so that no external force could accidentally move it as it was being pressed on and o. Additionally, I would have made the prism with thicker walls so that the water weight and heat would not be able distort it as easily. Even if the bowing did not aect the x-axis displacement per my observations, it would still be a good factor to remove. Lastly, I would pour in clean water and siphon it out a few times before switching to the temperature alternation so as to minimize the amount of residual salt. I would hope these alterations would allow the calculations and results to be even more precise.
As I nished my data collection, I also investigated what the refractive index would be for vinegar and oil. My results for vinegar were as expected, but I was surprised that the oil exhibited a much higher refractive index than water. Oil is less dense than water because it oats (and separates) when the two are put together. So why does the lighter- density uid have a higher index than the heavier one? I asked myself if my hypothesis was something that only applied to materials of the same substance (i.e., if you had oil with a high density and oil with a low density, would the higher density oil refract more?). It would be very interesting to measure refraction indexes with a number of dierent substances, and would be a good way to take this experiment to the next level.