I was shocked to recently learn that the double-slit experiment is not only possible to do with completely ordinary equipment (with photons of course), but it actually looks rather easy. This is from a MIT tech video:
That time stamp starts around the description of their device. Here are some of the specifications:
- Stand 10-20m away from a light source in an otherwise mostly dark environment
- 1/4 -1/2 mm separation between the two pinholes (which act as the slits for this double-slit experiment), around 4:56 in the video
- It looks like the holes are made about 1/4 mm in diameter, but this isn't explicitly stated
- Obviously observe or resolve the pattern maybe 10 cm behind the slits with ambient light shielded out.
Now, the obvious question is why these parameters work. More importantly, what is the scientific process for selection of these experimental parameters? I understand that a combination of the separation between the slits and the wavelength determines the distance between the peaks of the interference pattern, but what is the condition on the distance between the peaks? If this is a pattern that you can observe by looking into the tube, does that mean that several peaks of the pattern must fit in the diameter of a human iris?
Also, what is really the limit that must be satisfied for the light to be sufficiently coherent? Will this experiment not work if the pinholes are too large? If the source is too close? What is the actual limits from the mathematics of the double-slit experiment that can be applied to a real home experiment?