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ERIC Number: EJ1079149
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Nov
Pages: 2
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0031-921X
Using Nonprinciple Rays to Form Images in Geometrical Optics
Marx, Jeff; Mian, Shabbir
Physics Teacher, v53 n8 p497-498 Nov 2015
Constructing ray diagrams to locate the image of an object formed by thin lenses and mirrors is a staple of many introductory physics courses at the high school and college levels, and has been the subject of some pedagogy-related articles. Our review of textbooks distributed in the United States suggests that the singular approach involves drawing principle rays to locate an object's image. We were pleasantly surprised to read an article in this journal by Suppapittayaporn et al. in which they use an alternative method to construct rays for thin lenses based on a "tilted principle axis" (TPA). In particular, we were struck by the generality of the approach (a single rule for tracing rays as compared to the typical two or three rules), and how it could help students more easily tackle challenging situations, such as multi-lens systems and occluded lenses, where image construction using principle rays may be impractical. In this paper, we provide simple "proofs" for this alternative approach for the case of thin lenses and single refracting surfaces.
American Association of Physics Teachers. One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740. Tel: 301-209-3300; Fax: 301-209-0845; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A