Lectures on Physics has been derived from Benjamin Crowell's Light and Matter series of free introductory textbooks on physics. See the editorial for more information....

A shortcut for real images

In the case of a real image, there is a shortcut for step 1, the determination of the signs. In a real image, the rays cross at both the object and the image. We can therefore time-reverse the ray diagram, so that all the rays are coming from the image and reconverging at the object. Object and image swap roles. Due to this time-reversal symmetry, the object and image cannot be treated differently in any of the equations, and they must therefore have the same signs. They are both positive, since they must add up to a positive result.

Last Update: 2009-06-21