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The velocity of light is determined by focusing a deflected laser beam back and forth from a rotating mirror to a fixed mirror and measuring the deflection of the beams image from its original path. The deflection of the beam is directly related to the frequency of rotation of the mirror and inversely related to the speed of light. Students record data sets of mirror rotation frequency, measured by listening for zero beats of the mirror with an audio-oscillator, and beam deflection, measured by sighting through a lens onto a millimeter scale in the path of the beam. By plotting these data sets and knowing the distance between the mirrors and the laser source, the speed of light can be calculated from the slope of the linear relationship between deflection and frequency. (15 minutes)
Length: 15 minutes
Copyright date: ©1990
Recommended by The Physics Teacher.
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