If you look through a window screen at a distant street light, you
will see the pinpoint of light broken into a cross like pattern
of spots. The same effect can be obtained with a geologist's wire-mesh
sieve and a pinhole light source behind it, as shown to the right
of the page.
This is the phenomenon of diffraction. The wires of the screen scatter
the light waves. These scattered waves reinforce in certain directions
to produce spots of light, and cancel or interfere in other directions
to produce darkness.
From the pattern of light and darkness in the diffraction pattern,
a physicist can determine the spacings between wires in the original