Instructional Materials in Physics and Astronomy





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From Study Modules for Calculus-Based General Physics
Copyright © 1975 CBP Workshop, University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
Reproduction rights granted.


Have you ever wondered why you can hear around corners, but cannot see around them? You know that light and sound are waves, and should therefore share the same basic properties. Why then do they seem so different in the property of their "shadows"?

In this module you will learn that light does exhibit all the bending properties of sound and water waves. The effect, however, depends on the size of the obstacle compared to the wavelength. It is only the largeness of everyday obstacles compared to the very small wavelength of light that deemphasizes the bending, or diffraction, of light. In this module we shall use very small obstacles and windows in order to make the diffraction effect most apparent to you.

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