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normalizing/normalization

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Could somebody PLEASE explain to me in simple terms what a normal is, and what normalization is? pretend that I''m an 8 year old that knows nothing. thanks!

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in computer science. OpenGL! my book says:

"the surface normal is a vector perpendicular to the surface plane. it sounds complicated but it's not."


I don't understand. Can anybody clearly explain this to me?

[edited by - sab3156 on November 10, 2002 2:56:20 PM]

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Take a big slice of meatloaf. Stab a fork in it so it stands straight up. The handle points in the direction of the normal of the surface of the meat. Now if you measure the handle and change the coordinates of the end so that the handle is exactly one unit long, you''ve got a normalized normal.

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