# Diffraction of sound

1. Nov 8, 2011

### Misr

When the wavelength is bigger than an obstacle, then the sound waves bend around the obstacle.

so why
I can't imagine this at all

http://www.acoustics.salford.ac.uk/feschools/waves/diffract.htm

reflection of sound takes place when the difference in the speed of the sound between two media is great,while refraction takes place when the difference in the speed of the sound between two media is small

why???

2. Nov 8, 2011

### sophiecentaur

I think you are trying to categorise things too much. Diffraction always happens, at any boundary*. It is just more noticeable for a 'small' object.

Also, the effect of diffraction at the boundary between two 'transmissive' media will produce both a reflected wave and a refracted wave. The amount of reflection and refraction will depend on how big a change there is across the boundary and the angles involved.

* diffraction is just the result of all the waves adding up across the whole of the wavefront. When you shine light through a pinhole the resulting shape of the wave that gets through is very rounded. When you shine it through a doorway, much more light, in total, gets through but a tiny amount also 'leaks round the sides' with a very similar pattern at the very edge (90degrees) as from a pinhole. When we discuss reflection and refraction, we are usually discussing very wide wavefronts (big apertures) so we just ignore the off-axis ('diffracted') wave because it is so insignificant compared with all the energy going in the classically defined 'ray' direction.

But, for telescopes, for instance, we have refraction effects (focusing the image) plus diffraction effects (the ultimate blurriness of pictures of the Moon's surface etc.).

3. Nov 8, 2011

### Misr

Should I just accept this?

4. Nov 8, 2011

### Drakkith

Staff Emeritus
What do you mean by that?

5. Nov 9, 2011

### sophiecentaur

The quote in that post is not correct. You always get both reflection and refraction for non normal incidence. You continue to categorize rather than try to understand.

6. Nov 14, 2011