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5/20/2017 OtherApplicationsofTwoPointSourceInterference

OtherApplicationsofTwoPointSourceInterference
AnatomyofaTwoPointSourceInterferencePattern
ThePathDifference
Young'sEquation
Young'sExperiment
OtherApplicationsofTwoPointSourceInterference

Asisoftenthecase,physicsisnotasciencethatisrestrictedtothesterileconfinesofalaboratory.
Physicsisnaturallyandfrequentlyseenbyanyobserverwhoglancesattheworldaroundthem.An
see
informedphysicsstudentshould physicsinactiononadailybasisandshouldbeabletoexclaim
withoutembarrassment"thathappensbecauseofphysics."Indeed,thephysicsconceptsand
principlesthatwestudyinthePhysicsClassroomTutorialsimplyemergefromthephenomenonthatare
inourworldoftouchandseeandfeel.Thesephysicsconceptsandprinciplesaresimplyhumankind's
attempttoexplaintheobservable.Sowhereinthisworlddoweobservetwopointsource
interference?Wherecanweexperiencethephenomenonthatlighttakingtwopathsfromtwolocations
tothesamepointinspacecanundergoconstructiveanddestructiveinterference?Thereareseveral
answerstothesequestionsandtheywillbediscussedinthislastsectionofLesson3.

TheBigIdea
Beforeidentifyingandexplainingrealworldexamplesoftwopointsourceinterference,thebigidea
behinditoughttobereviewed.InthesecondpartofLesson3,itwasnotedthattwocoherentwaves
travelingalongtwodifferentpathstothesamepointwillinterfereconstructivelyifthereisadifference
indistancetraveledthatisequivalenttoawholenumberofwavelengths.Andsimilarly,
twocoherentwavestravelingalongtwodifferentpathstothesamepointwillinterferedestructivelyif
thereisadifferenceindistancetraveledthatisequivalenttoahalfnumberofwavelengths.The
differenceindistancetraveledbythewavesfromthetwosourcestothesinglepointisreferredtoas
thepathdifference.Thatis,
Constructive
Interference: PD=m wherem=0,1,2,3,4,...


Destructive wherem=0.5,1.5,2.5,3.5,
Interference: PD=m ...
Theseprincipleswerepresentedtoexplainthetwopointsourceinterferencepatternsthatare
characteristicofYoung'sexperimentandawavelengthmeasurement.Yet,theseprinciplesaremore
generalinthesensethattheycanexplainanyphysicalsituationinwhichwavestaketwodifferentpaths
fromtwocoherentsourcestothesamepoint.Suchcoherentwaveswillundergointerference.Andifthe
differenceindistancetraveledisawholenumberofwavelengths,thentheinterferencewilloccurin
suchawaythatthetwowaveswillconstructivelyreinforceeachother.Likewise,ifthedifferencein
distancetraveledisahalfnumberofwavelengths,thentheinterferencewilloccurinsuchawaythat
thetwowaveswilldestroyeachother.

TheApplications
Giventheaboveprinciple,thecluetofindingtwopointsourceinterferenceintherealworldwouldbeto
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lookforsituationsinwhichwavesfromtwocoherentsourcestravelalongtwodifferentpathstothe
5/20/2017 OtherApplicationsofTwoPointSourceInterference

samepoint.Sincethetwowavesmustbecoherent,itisbestthattheycanbetracedtothesame
source,butseparatedintotwopathsatsomepointduetopassagethroughtwoopeningsorreflection
offabarrier.Acommonexampleofthisinvolvestheinterferenceofradiowavesignalsthatoccuratthe
antennaofahomewhenradiowavesfromaverydistanttransmittingstationtaketwodifferentpaths
fromthestationtothehome.Thisisrelativelycommonforhomeslocatednearmountaincliffs.Insuch
aninstance,wavestraveldirectlyfromthetransmittingstationtotheantennaandinterferewithother
wavesthatreflectoffthemountaincliffsbehindthehomeandtravelbacktotheantenna.

Inthiscase,wavesaretakingtwodifferentpathsfromthesourcetotheantennaadirectpathanda
reflectedpath.Clearly,eachpathisrepresentedbyadifferentdistancetraveledfromthesourcetothe
home,withthereflectedpathwaycorrespondingtothelongerdistanceofthetwo.Ifthehomeis
locatedsomedistancedfromthemountaincliffs,thenthewavesthattakethereflectedpathtothe
homewillbetravelinganextradistancegivenbytheexpression2d.The2inthisexpressionisdueto
thefactthatthewavestakingthereflectedpathmusttravelpasttheantennatothecliffs(adistanced)
andthenbacktotheantennafromthecliff(aseconddistanced).Thus,thepathdifference
of2dresultsindestructiveinterferencewheneveritisequaltoa ofwavelengths. halfnumber
Destructive: PD=2d=m wherem=0.5,1.5,2.5,...
Sinceradiostationstransmittheirsignalsataspecificandknownfrequency,thewavelengthsofthese
lightwavescanbedeterminedbyrelatingittothetransmittedfrequencyandthelightspeed(3x
108m/s).

Thissameprincipleofdestructiveinterferenceofradiosignalscanbeobservedwhenwavesfromthe
transmittingsourcereflectoffairplanesthatareflyingoverhead.Inthiscase,therewillbeadifference
inthedistancetraveledbythewavemovingalongthedirectpathtotheantennaandthewavethat
travelsalongthereflectedpathofftheplanetotheantenna.Whiletheinterferenceismomentary(the
planedoesnotremaininastationarylocation),itisnonethelessobservable.Ifwesupposethatthe
planeisdirectlyoverheadandthatthedistancefromtheantennatothetransmittingstationisrelatively
large,thenthepathdifferenceissimplytheheightoftheplaneabovethehouse.

Thereareavarietyofpotentialheightsthatleadtodestructiveinterference.Eachheightsatisfiesthe
criteriathatdestructiveinterferencewilloccurwhenthepathdifferenceisequaltoa of halfnumber
wavelengths.
Destructive: PD=height=m wherem=0.5,1.5,2.5,...
Bysubstitutingvariousvaluesofmintotheequation,thevarietyofpotentialheightscanbedetermined.

Afinalapplicationoftwopointsourceinterferencethatisdiscussedhereinvolvestheinterferenceof
soundwaves.Allwaves,whetherlightwaves,soundwavesorwaterwaves,exhibitthesame
characteristicsproperties.Wavesrefract,reflect,diffractandinterfereinthesamemanneraccordingto
thesamerules.Andassuch,twocoherentsoundwavestravelingalongdifferentpathstothesame
pointwilldestructivelyinterfereprovidedthatthepathdifferenceisequaltoa of halfnumber
wavelengths.
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5/20/2017 OtherApplicationsofTwoPointSourceInterference

Arelativelycommondemonstrationofsoundwaveinterferencecanbeperformedwithtwospeakersin
alargeroomsuchasanauditorium.Ifbothspeakersarehookeduptothesamesoundsource
producingamonotonesound,thenasoundinterferencepatterncanbeobservedwithintheroom.If
oneweretowalkalongalineparalleltothelineconnectingthespeakers,therewouldbeclearlocations
ofdestructiveandconstructiveinterference.Atlocationsofdestructiveinterference,thesoundintensity
wouldbecomeweak,perhapsevenbarelynoticeable.Atlocationsofconstructiveinterference,the
soundintensitywouldbeamplified.Theselocationswouldbeobservedalongthelineatwhichone
walksatnearlyregularintervalsofdistance.


Imaginethatthereweresimplytwospeakersinalargeauditoriumsetupso
thattherewerecertainseatsthatwerelocatedalongnodallinesforparticular
frequencies.Whenthoseparticularfrequenciesweresoundedoutbythe
speakers,thepeopleintheseatsalongthosenodallineswouldbeatlocations
ofdestructiveinterferenceandwouldnothearthesoundfromthespeakers
(atleastduringthetimethatthoseparticularfrequencieswerebeingsounded
out).Acousticengineersmusttakethesefactorsintoaccountwhendesigning
auditoriumwallsandceilings.Thewallsandceilingsmustactasadditional
"sources"ofsoundastheyreflectsoundwavestoallpartsoftheroomsothat
evenwhenwavestravelingdirectlyfromthespeakerstoaseatundergo
destructiveinterference,thereisstillsoundreflectingoffwallsandceilingsto
thesameseats.Inthissense,thewallsandceilingsofawelldesigned
auditoriumservetoreflectsoundinsuchawayasto fillin
thoselocationswheredestructive
interferencemightbeoccurring.


WhyDoesLightFromTwoLightBulbsNotFormanInterferencePattern?
WhenthetopicofYoung'sexperimentandinterferenceisdiscussed,thequestionisoftenraised:Why
doesn'tlightfromtwolightbulbsundergointerferencetoproduceatwosourceinterferencepattern?
WhydoInotobservebrightanddarkfringesalongmylivingroomwallfromtheinterferenceoflight
fromtwolamps?Theexplanationpertainstothenatureofordinaryincandescentbulbsandtothe
necessityofcoherentsources.Recallfromearlierinthislessonthattheimportanceofcoherentlight
sourceswasemphasized.Coherentlightsourcesaresourcesoflightthatproducewavesthathavea
constantphasedifferencebetweenthemoverasignificantdurationoftime.Twowavesmayhavethe
samefrequencyandwavelengthbutbeoffsetfromeachotherinthattheyareatdifferentpointsina
completecycle.Forinstance,onewavecouldbeatacrestpositionjustpriortothemomentintime
whentheothersourceiscreatingacrest.Theyaresaidtobeoutofphase.Yetiftheymaintainthe
samedifferenceinphase,theyareconsideredcoherentlightsources.Evenifthesourcesoflightdonot
stay instep
witheachother,aslongastheamountbywhichtheyareoutofstepremainsthesame
overtime,thelightsourcesaresaidtobecoherent.Tobecoherent,twowavesmusthavethesame
frequencyandtheremustnotbeanydisruptionoftheircycleoverthecourseoftime.

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5/20/2017 OtherApplicationsofTwoPointSourceInterference

Inanincandescentbulb,thevibrationsofelectronswithinthefilamentleadtotheproductionofthe
electromagneticwave.Severalmilliontimesinasecond,therearesmalldisruptionsofthefilamentthat
resultindiscontinuitiesinthewavesthattheyproduce.Ultimately,twodifferentincandescentbulbsare
unabletoproducelightwavesthatmaintainaconstantdifferenceinphaseovertime.Asaresult,any
interferencepatternthatdoesoccurwillnotendureforasufficientlengthoftimetoallowthehuman
eyetoobservethepattern.

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