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Introduction to the Physics of Waves by Tim Freegarde

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8

Interference

8.1 Wave propagation around obstructions

We have already alluded several times to the principle of superposition, which we shall consider at length in Chapter 13; and implicitly to the phenomenon of interference, which underlies the Huygens description of wave propagation. When two waves overlap in a linear medium, the total displacement is simply the sum of the two component displacements and, depending upon whether or not they are of the same sign, the waves may either reinforce or cancel out each other’s effect at that point. Although Huygens discussed several aspects of the nature of waves and their propagation, he gave no explicit account of how waves interfere; nor did he need to, for his description, when applied to ...

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