We know that Sound waves are Longitudinal waves. It mean that there is pressure difference created when medium particles move. But while diffraction of sound waves "How will the medium particles move". Will they get any sideward push. So that sound diffract sidewards.

Is the reason for this question is same for light diffraction... If photon theory worked out then it might be same. What if wave nature worked out in light diffraction?

When wave length increases then diffraction effects will be more. How are they related?

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    $\begingroup$ Why do the need a "sideways push"? Are you assuming a plane wave to start? In general sound waves travel in all directions. I'd recommend editing your question to provide a specific example. $\endgroup$
    – user196418
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 11:30
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    $\begingroup$ @ggcg I think the OP is just wondering what causes sound waves to diffract. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 12:43

1 Answer 1


It's ultimately the same reason why light refracts, Huygens's Principle.

You're thinking of the sound as "a wave", in this particular case you're looking at it where its roughly linear. So then, why does this linear thing suddenly move sideways when it goes through a hole?

Think about it differently; according to Huygens a wave front is the mathematical addition of an infinity of spherical waves. You see a linear wave, but that's because you're macroscopic. At the microscopic level that's not what's happening, at that level its moving in all directions all the time.

So wait, if the microscopic "things" are moving spherically, then why did you have a linear wavefront to start with? Because over an extended front, every bit of the wave that's going, say, right, has another bit somewhere else going left. When you sum it all up, all the "sideways bits" sum to zero, and the only leftover terms are the ones from the original disturbance, moving outward.

So what happens at the slit? Well consider the spot right on the left edge of the opening... the left side of it is moving left and the right side is moving right (its spherical). Now before it got to the slit there was another spot to it's left that was doing the same thing. So the left moving bit of spot A was being cancelled out by the right moving bit of spot B. Ahhh, but B just hit the wall, literally. So no no one is stopping the left-moving side of A.

Presto, at our macroscopic level, it looks like it started moving left. But that's not "really" what happened.


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