Light Science pp 105-127 | Cite as

Interference and Diffraction

  • Thomas D. Rossing
  • Christopher J. Chiaverina
Part of the Undergraduate Texts in Contemporary Physics book series (UTCP)


In Chapter 2 we learned about several interesting properties of waves, including constructive and destructive interference. Fig. 2.8 illustrates the constructive and destructive interference that occurs when two wave pulses travel in opposite directions on a one-dimensional medium such as a rope. In the case of continuous waves, constructive and destructive interference lead to standing waves, as shown in Fig. 2.9. We now discuss what happens when waves travel in a two-dimensional medium (such as water waves on the surface of a pond) or a three-dimensional medium (such as light waves in a room).


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References and Suggested Reading

  1. Edge, R. (1994). 3D with jumping colors. The Physics Teacher 32, 538.Google Scholar
  2. Falk, D. S., Brill, D. R., and Stork, D. G. (1986). Seeing the Light. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Chapters 9, 12.Google Scholar
  3. Kirkpatrick L. D., and Wheeler, G. F. (1995). Physics: A World View, 2nd ed. Philadelphia: Saunders College Publishing, Chapter 18.Google Scholar
  4. Kruglak, H. (1990). Another Legend Debunked. The Physics Teacher 28, 491.ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Riley, B. (1995). Colour for the Painter. In T. Lamb and J. Bourriau, eds.,Colour Art and Science, Cambridge: Cambridge UniversityPress.Google Scholar
  6. Rossing, T. D. (1990). The Science of Sound, 2nd ed. Reading, Mass.: Addi-son-Wesley, Chapter 3.Google Scholar
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  8. Walker, J. The Amateur Scientist. Scientific American 239(3), 232–240.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas D. Rossing
    • 1
  • Christopher J. Chiaverina
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PhysicsNorthern Illinois UniversityDe KalbUSA
  2. 2.Science DepartmentNew Trier High SchoolWinnetkaUSA

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