Thu February 24, 2011 By: Sruthisreenivasan

why is diffraction of sound wave easier to observe than a light wave?

Expert Reply
Thu February 24, 2011
Dear student

The reason for the difference—that is, why sound diffraction is more pronounced than light diffraction—is that sound waves are much, much larger than light waves. Sound travels by longitudinal waves, or waves in which the movement of vibration is in the same direction as the wave itself. Longitudinal waves radiate outward in concentric circles, rather like the rings of a bull's-eye.

The waves by which sound is transmitted are larger, or comparable in size to, the column or the door—which is an example of an aperture—and, hence, they pass easily through apertures and around obstacles. Light waves, on the other hand, have a wavelength, typically measured in nanometers (nm), which are equal to one-millionth of a millimeter. Wavelengths for visible light range from 400 (violet) to 700 nm (red): hence, it would be possible to fit about 5,000 of even the longest visible-light wavelengths on the head of a pin!

 Hope this helps.




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