About a century before Young’s celebrated two‐slit experiment, Isaac Newton quantitatively investigated the diffraction of light from a wedge aperture, but failed to understand the implications of his findings. We have reexamined this unusual system theoretically within the framework of the Fresnel–Kirchhoff scalar diffraction theory, and experimentally using a laser light source with pinhole spatial filter and CCD camera. Both the far‐field shadow region and near‐field directly illuminated region reveal aesthetically striking images that are deducible from the mathematical analysis, but whose interpretation is subtle and best elucidated by an alternative and less widely known perspective of diffraction.

This content is only available via PDF.
AAPT members receive access to the American Journal of Physics and The Physics Teacher as a member benefit. To learn more about this member benefit and becoming an AAPT member, visit the Joining AAPT page.