Objects near a fire place appear to shimmer. Why?

Answer:

This is due to continuous change in the refractive index of air brought about by random motion of smoke and temperature fluctuations near the fire place.

  • The air rises and becomes hotter as it passes over the hot surface.  Space is occupied by cool air.
  • Hot air has a lower refractive index than cooler air.
  • As a result, the physical state of the medium varies.
  • The light tends to come from different directions due to the medium’s changing Refractive Index (RI).
  • As a consequence, the apparent location of objects fluctuates.

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