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*From*: Bob LaMontagne <rlamont@POSTOFFICE.PROVIDENCE.EDU>*Date*: Tue, 3 Feb 2004 11:00:22 -0500

The exposition in Vol II of the Feynman lectures is a wonderful proof

for mechanics problems. It was fun to read that again - thanks to John

for reminding us about it. The original post that started this is total

internal reflection. Again, I would refer people to Feynman's QED for a

rationalization of Fermat's principle in the context of waves. Here he

explains that the minimum path is the one where adjacent paths differ so

little in length that a region of constructive interference of the waves

results. As one moves away from the minimum path the phase relationships

become almost random and there is no consistent interference effect. The

overall effect mimics ray diagrams for reflection and refraction. Of

course, the point of the book is that the same analysis can be done for

QED.

Bob at PC

John Denker wrote:

Quoting Bernard Cleyet <anngeorg@PACBELL.NET>:

Is there a simple proof of Fermat's principle?

Feynman, volume II chapter 19.

Probably as simple as it's going to get.

Recommended. Really, really, recommended.

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