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83
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6answers
7k views

Stupid yet tricky question: Why do we actually see the sun?

I haven't yet gotten a good answer to this: If you have two rays of light of the same wavelength and polarization (just to make it simple for now, but it easily generalizes to any range and all ...
39
votes
7answers
4k views

Why don't two musical instruments sometimes generate destructive interference?

I'm an electrical engineer, and I understand wave propagation, interference patterns, and so on. But I'm missing something basic, so perhaps my understanding isn't as good as I believe. I'll show my ...
37
votes
10answers
9k views

What happens to the energy when waves perfectly cancel each other?

What happens to the energy when waves perfectly cancel each other (destructive interference)? It appears that the energy "disappear" but the law of conservation of energy states that it can't be ...
25
votes
5answers
3k views

Does a photon interfere only with itself?

I sometimes hear statements like that: Quantum-mechanically, interference pattern occurs due to quantum interference of wavefunction of a photon. Wavefunction of a single photon only interferes ...
18
votes
4answers
2k views

Newton's rings: What causes the other rings?

This is from an experiment we did in physics class. We shone a sodium light at a convex lens on top of a sheet of glass - and this image was captured by a USB microscope. I know what causes the main ...
14
votes
4answers
2k views

Energy conservation and interference

I have a problem with energy conservation in case of interfering waves. Imagine two harmonic waves with amplitudes $A$. They both carry energy that is proportional to $A^2$, so the total energy is ...
12
votes
4answers
540 views

How does interference move energy from destructive to constructive regions?

I recently read (sorry but I don’t have a reference) that interference is not only about destructive and constructive interference but moving energy from destructive to constructive regions according ...
11
votes
6answers
2k views

How come an anti-reflective coating makes glass *more* transparent?

The book I'm reading about optics says that an anti-reflective film applied on glass* makes the glass more transparent, because the air→film and film→glass reflected waves (originated from a paraxial ...
11
votes
5answers
851 views

Double slit experiment near event horizon

What happens if you perform a double slit experiment near an event horizon, if one of the slits is outside, one is inside the event horizon?
8
votes
5answers
5k views

Interference of polarized light

Does polarized light interfere?
8
votes
7answers
2k views

A Musical Pathway

Using a small number of sound emitters, could you create a room where certain nodes emitted particular tones, but no meaningful sound was heard anywhere else. So, for example, by walking down a ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

Where does energy go in destructive interference? [duplicate]

I have read that when two light waves interfere destructively, the energy contained within is transferred to other parts of the wave which have interfered constructively. However, I am having some ...
7
votes
3answers
2k views

Why don't waves with different wavelengths interfere with each other in white-light?

The book I'm reading about optics says at some point that "each color (wavelength) contained in the white light interferes only with itself". But why is this so? Edit: I moved the rest of the ...
7
votes
1answer
149 views

Why does my body create interference with my clock radio while in bed?

I typically listen to NPR in the morning from a clock radio next to my bed. There are days when just moving my body, even my arm or leg, is enough to cause interference with the radio to dramatically ...
6
votes
3answers
603 views

Triple slit experiment

If the experiment is done with single photons and a "detector" at one of the slits the interference pattern breaks down. What happens if three slits are used with single photons and a "detector" at, ...
6
votes
3answers
211 views

Fully destructive interference

I'm aware that this is somewhat of a frequently asked question (not only here), and i've dug through respective answer for a few hours before i decided to ask here. None of those answers helped me ...
6
votes
1answer
314 views

Are two polarization states of light coherent?

Let's consider a situation: we have distant point source of unpolarized light in certain non-zero range of wavelengths (it's polychromatic). Let's divide this light into 2 beams depending on ...
6
votes
3answers
188 views

supressing certain decay paths and enhancing others with interference

In a scattering reaction, there are many possible final states for the products, each with different production rates. Question: Is there a way in which we could in general supress certain rates ...
5
votes
3answers
679 views

Recently publicized experiment on destructive interference between two laser beams

Recently I've had several non-physicist friends ask me, independently of each other, about an experiment where two collinear laser beams destructively interfere along a certain length. Everybody wants ...
5
votes
2answers
305 views

Two paths having the same phase in the path integral approach

In the path integral approach to Quantum Mechanics, can two distinctly different paths of the possible infinite paths have the same phase, i.e can there be a bimodal distribution of the phases ...
5
votes
2answers
130 views

Would there be fringe pattern in this arrangement?

Figure shows a standard two slit arrangement with slits S1, S2. P1, P2 are the two minima points on either side of P. At P2 on the screen, there is a hole and behind P2 is a second 2- slit arrangement ...
5
votes
3answers
103 views

Wave or particle in the end

In Young's double slit experiment I put a convex lens after double slit and direct interference pattern on to a fibre. Then I expose the other end of fibre to a screen. What will I observe - the ...
5
votes
4answers
106 views

Why can interference from two independent sources be observed?

Having read this question and answers to it, I've learned that somehow two light beams from independent sources can actually produce interference pattern, if the properties of their sources are good ...
5
votes
4answers
2k views

Is coherent light required for interference in Young's double slit experiment?

In this Veritasium video, a home experiment is presented which appears to produce a very good double-slit interference pattern with normal sunlight. The experiment is an empty cardboard box with a ...
4
votes
3answers
1k views

Why does light in a room not form constructive and destructive interference patterns?

This is something that I have wondered for a long time. How come when I walk around why do I not see random black spots where light has collided destructively and bright spots where it has collided ...
4
votes
3answers
395 views

Which is the biggest object which can interfere with itself?

I've heard that scientist proof that viruses of the Tobacco mosaic virus could interfere with themselves. I'm referring to quantum interference-- the same as photons. Unfortunately, I couldn't find ...
4
votes
3answers
962 views

Do laser beams interfere noticeably with each other?

I want to arrange some red lasers along a 90 degree arc of a circle, aimed towards the center of the circle. When their beams hit the opposite side of the circle, will I notice any interference ...
4
votes
2answers
115 views

Why are two voices singing the same note louder than one?

Let's say for example: Two people sing the same note (frequency) and volume (amplitude) together. Why is it that the two persons sound louder than they would ...
4
votes
2answers
402 views

Does diffraction occur before interference?

In the double slit experiment, light passes through two slits and the waves interfere and form an interference pattern. A single slit is required for diffraction. So, I was thinking about whether ...
4
votes
2answers
171 views

What are the lines visible between two cards held edge-to-edge?

Hold two cards (say credit cards) edge to edge, anything from a very slight touch to about 1/3 mm separation, in front of any ordinary light source. When I do this I see several fine dark parallel ...
4
votes
1answer
132 views

Will overlapping two different beams of coherent light cause interference?

I have two laser beams with same polarization running parallel to each other. Will they interfere? If yes, then what are the conditions (perpendicular distance etc) and how can I observe the ...
4
votes
4answers
1k views

Young's double-slit experiment with detectors

Related: Accuracy of various optical instruments In many books, it's written that knowing which slit a photon passes through (by placing a detector before the slit) in a Young's double-slit setup ...
4
votes
1answer
89 views

Is diffraction through an aperture similar to diffraction by a plane of atoms?

I'm asking because I have a problem asking me what the diffraction pattern would be if instead of spherical atoms I'd have triangular atoms. I can't find anything about this in my X-ray diffraction ...
3
votes
4answers
3k views

Difference Between Fraunhofer and Fresnel Diffraction

What is the difference between Fraunhofer diffraction and Fresnel diffraction? I mean diffraction is just bending of light waves or waves in general around a point. So how can there be two types of ...
3
votes
2answers
207 views

If photons don't interact directly, how can electromagnetic waves interfere?

If photons don't interact directly, how can electromagnetic waves interfere? I know that photons can scatter via higher order mechanisms, but not directly. Does those mechanisms explain the classical ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

Purple doesn't occur in rainbow - or does it?

Usually, when asked whether the purple color exists rainbows, an answer similar to this is given: The purple color is perceived by human eyes via the activation of both red-sensitive and ...
3
votes
1answer
111 views

Covering centeremost slit of a N slit diffraction grating - what happens?

For an N-slit diffraction grating, the distance from a maxima to a minima at order p is given by $$\delta \theta = \frac{\lambda}{Np}$$ What happens to this width when the centremost $\frac{N}{2}$ ...
3
votes
2answers
209 views

Probability wave speed of dispersion and interference

I'm a layperson learning about quantum mechanics and probability waves. My understanding is that the probability wave for the position of a particle disperses throughout all of the universe. I have ...
3
votes
1answer
81 views

How can I easily explain interference to a tour group?

I'm looking for unique and illustrative ways to explain the phenomenon of interference to a tour group consisting of all types of people, from elementary school kids to adults. I run into this ...
3
votes
1answer
571 views

Newton's Ring Experiment

In Newton's ring experiment, it is said that the Newton's ring experiment is used to explain this phenomena as depicted in the image. Now, the interference pattern here is forming on the surface of ...
3
votes
2answers
402 views

Does thin film interference (anti-reflective coating) let more light through?

The theory of an anti-reflective coating is that the reflected light off the coating and the reflected light off the substrate is 180 degrees out of phase, causing destructive interference and ...
3
votes
1answer
77 views

Describing quantum intereference with only currents and densities

I know about and believe to understand the general wave equation based Kirchhoff diffraction formula, which in the Fraunhofer limit leads to a farfield complex wave function by Fourier transforming ...
3
votes
2answers
329 views

White light diffraction

I have a hard time understanding why light waves of different wavelengths diffract in a different manner. According to Huygens' principle, every point on the wavefront is a source of a secondary wave. ...
3
votes
1answer
380 views

Single photon interference experiment

In short: the question is, does the length of the path affect the outcome of detecting a photon? Consider the single photon beam splitter experiment. Does the probability of detecting the photon ...
3
votes
1answer
99 views

Period of Double Slit Experiment

What is the period of the pattern from the double slit experiment? It varies along the pattern right? Namely I'm confused because when considering two point sources (See: Period of Interference ...
2
votes
2answers
304 views

A question on intereference experiment with water waves as given in the Feynman Lectures on Physics

I have a question related to the interference (thought)experiment with water waves given in the book Feynman Lectures on Physics Vol.3. When only one hole (hole 1) is open the measured wave intensity ...
2
votes
3answers
666 views

What does the differential of $d_s\sin(\theta) = m\lambda$ help us see, with respect to waves through diffraction gratings?

With respect to waves traveling through a diffraction grating, we have an equation like this one: $$d_s\sin(\theta) = m\lambda.$$ Where $d_s$ is the distance between slits in the grating, $\theta$ is ...
2
votes
3answers
113 views

Does interference take place only in waves parallel to each other?

The title says it all but I will add some details. I believe that interference takes place only in waves which are parallel to each other. See the picture to understand what I mean by parallel. We ...
2
votes
2answers
88 views

Electron Wave Interference

In the double slit interference pattern for the wave of an electron, what will happen if I make the slits to be smaller than the size of an electron ? Will I still observe an interference pattern on ...
2
votes
1answer
61 views

Would white light waves act as same as monochromatic waves in double slit experiment?

Would white light waves act as same as monochromatic waves in double slit experiment? If not, what pattern would be seen on the screen?