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Refraction vs. diffraction

  1. Apr 21, 2005 #1


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    i know that refraction is the 'bending' of light as it enters a different medium. whats diffraction? is that when light somehow disperses when it goes really far...?

    can someone explain them? and why the names are so similar?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 21, 2005 #2
    The difference

    You are correct on refraction ( differing media ) but diffraction is about a single media . Light rather like a water wave can go round corners i.e. it can illuminate an area which by straight line geometry should be in shadow .
    When this occurs the image is not a simple clean image but a set of bands of light from light to dark as would be caused by interfering waves .
    The single slit experiment (or double slit by Young ) illustrates
    search Young double slit on Yahoo or Wikipedia there is tons of info
    Yours Ray.
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