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Physics Challenge for Boris Korsunsky, Column Editor

Weston High School, Weston, MA 02493

Teachers and Students korsunbo@post.harvard.edu

Solutions to May 2012 Challenge

w Amicable separation
A parallel beam of monochromatic light strikes a Suppose that the hexagon has side length L. The
transparent prism. The cross section of the prism is a distance from midpoint A to midpoint C9 is
regular hexagon. The beam is parallel to the top and 2 L cos 30 = 3L. This segment also serves as the nor-
bottom faces of the prism, and points A and B in the mal line to the rays entering or exiting the prism at A or
diagram are the midpoints of the corresponding edges. C9. The length of the ray passing from A to A9 can be
After the refraction, two separate parallel beams of found using the Pythagorean theorem,
light emerge from the prism. What is the minimum 2 13
( L2 ) + ( 3L) =
index of refraction of the material of the prism that L.
allows such an effect? 2
Snells law can now be used to find the minimum index
of refraction.
1 . sin 30o = n . sin q ,
2 = n 1
B n= 13
2 1.803 .

(Contributed by Jason L. Smith, Richland Community

College, Decatur, IL)
Solution: Consider the diagram of the hexagonal
prism below, along with the part of the light beam
entering between points C and A. We would also like to recognize the following contribu-
30 Sharmila Balamurugan (student, Womens Christian

College, Chennai, India)
Hratch Barsoumian (Haigazian University, Beirut,
Andr Bellemans (Universit Libre de Bruxelles,
Phil Cahill (The SI Organization, Inc., Rosemont PA)
David A. Cornell (emeritus, Principia College, Elsah, IL)
Since the side containing A and C is parallel to the Julien Desmarets (Lyce Branly, Nogent-sur-Marne,
side containing A9 and C9 the beam emerging from France)
the strip A9C9 will be parallel to the beam entering Oscar Escucha Garca (student, Escuela Politcnica Su-
the strip AC. By symmetry, another parallel beam perior, Universidad de Sevilla, Sevilla, Spain)
exits from the side just above point A9, satisfying the
ngel Garca Rivera (student, Escuela Politcnica Supe-
requirements of the problem. The diagram shown is
rior, University of Seville, Seville, Spain)
for the minimum index of refraction that causes this
effect. A larger index would move points A9 and C9 Josh Gates (Tatnall School, Greenville, DE)
down their side, creating a blank region between the Fredrick P. Gram (Cuyahoga Community College,
two parallel beams. Cleveland, OH)


Norge Cruz Hernndez (Universidad de Sevilla, Sevilla,
Gerald E. Hite (TAMUG, Galveston, TX)
Jos Ignacio iguez de la Torre (Universidad de
Salamanca, Salamanca, Spain)
Kenneth E. Jesse (emeritus, Illinois State University,
Normal, IL)
Gabriel Kessler (Oldham County High School, Buckner,
Dieter Kuhn (CH-8180 Buelach, Switzerland)
Gabriel Lisboa (student, Colgio Integrado Objetivo, So
Paulo, Brazil)
Kuan-Fu Liu (student, National Taiwan University, Taipei,
Taiwan R.O.C.)
Daniel Mixson (Naval Academy Preparatory School,
Newport, RI)
Carl E. Mungan (U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis,
Thomas Olsen (Society of Physics Students, AIP, College
Park, MD)
Eduardo E. Rodrguez (Instituto de Industria, Universidad
Nacional de General Sarmiento, Buenos Aires,
Jorge Salazar (Seccin Fsica, Pontificia Universidad
Catlica del Per, Per)
Clint Sprott (University of Wisconsin Madison, WI)
Ryan Yancey (Lancaster High School, Lancaster, CA)

Many thanks to all contributors and we hope to hear from

you in the future!