Hear Around a Corner But Not See? Exploring Light as a Wave

In summary, the reason why we can hear around a corner but not see around a corner is due to the phenomenon of diffraction. Sound waves have longer wavelengths, allowing them to bend around obstacles such as doors and hallways. On the other hand, the wavelength of visible light is much shorter, making it less likely to diffract around corners. However, if light passes through a small slit, it can still bend and allow us to see around a corner.
  • #1
harhar
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If light is a wave then how come we can hear around a corner but not see around a corner?
 
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  • #2
harhar said:
If light is a wave then how come we can hear around a corner but not see around a corner?

Diffraction is the key. This occurs when a wave passes through a gap OF A SIMILAR SIZE to the wavelength concerned. Sound waves diffract around doorways (similar size wave), but light doesn't as it has a wavelength of only a few hundred nanometers.
 
  • #3
harhar said:
If light is a wave then how come we can hear around a corner but not see around a corner?

Because the typical wavelength of visible light is waaaaaaay shorter than the typical wavelength of sound. It does mean that if you have EM radiation that has long wavelengths, it can go "around a corner", and voila, you have radio waves!

Zz.
 
  • #4
The wavelength is sound is typically a few meters, long enough to bend around obstacles such as doors and hallways. Also, many sound sources emit sound more or less radially (in all directions).

Light sources are more often more beam-like and the wavelength of visible light is about 400 nanometers. You won't notice diffraction (the 'bending' of waves around corners) unless the obstacles have about the same dimensions as the wavelength. That's why we usually don't notice it, but if light passes through a small slit it does 'bend' and we can 'see around a corner'.
 

Related to Hear Around a Corner But Not See? Exploring Light as a Wave

1. How is it possible to hear around a corner but not see?

The phenomenon of being able to hear around a corner but not see is due to the nature of sound and light waves. Sound waves are able to bend or diffract around objects, allowing us to hear them even if they are not directly in our line of sight. However, light waves are much shorter and cannot diffract as easily, so they do not bend around corners in the same way that sound waves do.

2. How does light behave as a wave?

Light is an electromagnetic wave, meaning that it is made up of oscillating electric and magnetic fields. These fields travel through space at the speed of light and can be described by properties such as wavelength, frequency, and amplitude. Light waves are able to interfere with one another, creating patterns of light and dark areas, just like other types of waves.

3. How does light travel through space?

Light travels through space as a transverse wave, meaning that the oscillating electric and magnetic fields are perpendicular to the direction of propagation. This allows light to travel in a straight line until it encounters an obstacle or changes medium, at which point it may be reflected, refracted, or absorbed.

4. What is the relationship between wavelength and frequency of light?

The wavelength and frequency of light are inversely proportional to each other. This means that as the wavelength of light increases, the frequency decreases, and vice versa. This relationship is described by the equation: c = λν, where c is the speed of light, λ is the wavelength, and ν is the frequency.

5. How does the behavior of light as a wave impact our daily lives?

The understanding of light as a wave has had a significant impact on our daily lives. It has allowed us to develop technologies such as radio, television, and the internet, which rely on the transmission of electromagnetic waves. It has also been crucial in the development of medical imaging techniques, such as X-rays, and has led to advancements in fields such as optics, astronomy, and telecommunications.

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