Compare reflection and refraction.

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megamind-616 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Reflection and refraction are both boundary behaviors of waves (such as light waves) that are associated with the changing of the path of a wave. 

Reflection of light is defined as the bouncing back of light after hitting a surface. Smooth, shiny surfaces are the best reflectors (items that reflect light). The law of reflection states that the angle at which the incident ray (incoming ray) hits the surface equals the angle of the reflected ray (the ray that bounces off of the surface). 

Refraction of light is defined as the bending of a wave when it enters a medium where the speed of the wave changes. When a wave enters a slower medium from a fast medium, the light ray bends towards toward the normal to the boundary between the two media. 

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