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Radio waves are able to diffract readily around buildings, as anybody with a portable radio receiver can verify. However, light waves, which are also electromagnetic waves, undergo no discernible diffraction around buildings. Why not?

  • physics -

    diffraction is noticable for long wave, not for short waves.

  • physics -

    Here are few additional comments to Bob Pursley's correct answer

    Waves spread sideways a distance x beyond edges of objects by a characteristic distance
    y = sqrt(wavelength*X)
    This is called Fresnel diffraction

    There is another type of diffraction in the "far field" past objects of size D that block waves. It is called Fraunhofer diffraction and has a characteristic spread angle
    theta = wavelength/D

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