An experiment in refraction

Pink flamingo swizzle stick refraction

One well  known effect of the refraction of light as it passes from air to water is that a stick partially submerged in  water will appear to bend where it enters the water. Water is boring, and I don’t have any sticks, but in the interests of science I experimented to discover how much a pink flamingo swizzle stick will appear to bend when partially submerged in sparkling wine compared to in a martini. The results are quite different, which makes me wonder if the shape of the glass has anything to do with the effect?

The stick does appear to bend slightly as it enters the bubbly, but the effect is not dramatic. Interestingly, you can also see how the black line that swirls around the glass appears to 'jump' where it passes behind the wine-air boundary.

The stick does appear to bend slightly as it enters the bubbly, but the effect is not pronounced. Interestingly, you can also see how the black line that swirls around the glass appears to ‘jump’ where it passes behind the wine-air boundary on the right-hand side.

pink flamingo swizzle stick in martini

Now, here we have a dramatic bending effect! Look at that sharp zig zag shape in the stem of the swizzle stick. Also some very cool reflections happening inside the glass.

 

Oh, the things I do in the name of science!

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17 thoughts on “An experiment in refraction

  1. Noted the comment about whether the shape of the glass makes a difference, not whether it would be the same if you used water and not wine, or put the swizzle stick in the right way up! Or is that an Australian thing? I think you can join my wine group. http://wp.me/pL5Ms-1XQ
    Jude xx
    PS Nice to see you back in the blog world

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    • Indeed, there are many variables at play here, I think. The flamingo is head first in the martini glass because the head end is heavier (in swizzle stick terms!) than the other end, and it kept tipping out of the shallow glass.
      I would be honoured to join the wine group! That’s an amazing folly btw.

      >Nice to see you back in the blog world
      Thanks! I took some time off to focus on finishing ‘In Your Sights’. All that remains is a final pass for lingering awkward sentences, then a proof read. Then it’s straight to number 1 on Amazon!

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  2. Yes, great dramatic effects in the second photograph! Interesting experiment you’ve conducted here. (And a fun excuse to empty the contents afterward. 😉 ) Maybe it’s the angle of the swizzle stick — that’s different in both the pictures too!

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  3. Malakoff Mum says:

    I too wondered if immersing the opposite end of the stick had something to do with the different result. Back to the drawing board?

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