State the laws of reflection and describe an experiment to verify them.



The two laws of reflection are —


  1. The angle of incidence i is equal to the angle of reflection r (i.e., ∠i = ∠r)
    ∠AON = ∠BON
  2. The incident ray, the reflected ray and the normal at the point of incidence, lie in the same plane.
    AO, ON and OB are in one plane.

Experimental verification —

Fix a sheet of white paper on a drawing board and draw a line MM1 as shown below. On this line, take a point O nearly at the middle of it and draw a line OA such that ∠MOA is less than 90° (say, ∠MOA = 60°). Then draw a normal ON on line MM1 at point O, and place a small plane mirror vertically by means of a stand with it’s silvered surface on the line MM1.

Now fix two pins P and Q vertically at some distance (say 5 cm) apart on line OA, on the board. Keeping eye on the other side of the normal (but on the same side of mirror), see clearly the images P’and Q’ of the pins P and Q.

Now fix a pin R such that it is in line with the images P’ and Q’ as observed in the mirror. Now fix one more pin S such that the pin S is also in line with the pin R as well as the images P’ and Q’ of pins P and Q.

Draw small circles on paper around the positions of pins as in figure. Remove the pins and draw a line OB joining the point O to the pin points S and R.

As we can observe, AO is the incident ray, OB is the reflected ray, ∠AON = i is the angle of incidence and ∠BON = r is the angle of reflection. The angles AON and BON are measured and recorded in the observation table.

The experiment is repeated for the ∠MOA equal to 50°, 40° and 30°.

Observation table —

S. No. Angle of incidence,
i = ∠AON
(in degrees)
Angle of reflection
r = ∠BON
(in degrees)
1 30 30
2 40 40
3 50 50
4 60 60

From the above observation table, we find that in each case, angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection. This verifies the first law of reflection.

The experiment is being performed on a flat drawing board, with mirror normal to the plane on which white sheet of paper is being fixed. Since the lower tips of all the four pins lie on the same plane (i.e., the plane of paper), therefore, the incident ray, the reflected ray and the normal at the point of incidence, all lie in one plane. This verifies the second law of reflection.

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