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29
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3answers
2k views

What do we see while watching light? Waves or particles?

I'm trying to understand quantum physics. I'm pretty familiar with it but I can't decide what counts as observing to cause particle behave (at least when it's about lights). So the question is what do ...
27
votes
8answers
4k views

Is the wave-particle duality a real duality?

I often hear about the wave-particle duality, and how particles exhibit properties of both particles and waves. I most recently heard this in this video. However, I wonder; is this actually a duality? ...
21
votes
3answers
2k views

Do photons occupy space?

Total noob here. I realize that photons do not have a mass. However, they must somehow occupy space, as I've read that light waves can collide with one another. Do photons occupy space? and if so, ...
21
votes
2answers
3k views

What is a phonon?

I am trying to understand intuitively what a phonon is, but for the moment I find it quite difficult (having a limited background in quantum mechanics, an undergraduate course in non-relativistic QM). ...
17
votes
1answer
1k views

Is the Uncertainty Principle valid for information about the past?

My layman understanding of the Uncertainty Principle is that you can't determine the both the position and momentum of a particle at the same point in time, because measuring one variable changes the ...
16
votes
7answers
3k views

Does electron in wave form have mass?

I heard from my lecturer that electron has dual nature. For that instance in young's double slit experiment electron exhibits as a particle at ends but it acts as a wave in between the ends. It under ...
13
votes
4answers
1k views

$\lambda=\frac{2h}{p}$ instead of $\lambda=\frac{h}{p}$?

I am studying quantum physics and there is something I don't understand: I know that for any particle $E=hf$ (Einstein relation) and $v=\lambda f$ ($v$ is the speed of the particle). I also know ...
13
votes
3answers
522 views

Wave/particle-duality as result of taking different limits of a QFT

There is an account on dualities in quantum field theories and string theories by Polchinski from last week http://arxiv.org/abs/1412.5704 At the end of page 4, he writes the wave/particle ...
12
votes
4answers
3k views

Does the uncertainty principle apply to photons?

Wikipedia claims the following: More generally, the normal concept of a Schrödinger probability wave function cannot be applied to photons. Being massless, they cannot be localized without being ...
12
votes
4answers
2k views

Are the Maxwell equations a correct description of the wave character of photons?

In basic quantum mechanics courses, one describes the evolution of quantum mechanics chronologically. Interference experiments with particles showed that particles should have a wave character; on the ...
12
votes
2answers
473 views

Do particles behave like electromagnetic waves?

From double-slit experiments we know particles have wave-like behavior: they statistically form an interference pattern. My question is: Is this wave-like behavior similar to the photons' behavior? ...
10
votes
7answers
9k views

Why does observation collapse the wave function?

In one of the first lectures on QM we are always taught about Young's experiment and how particles behave either as waves or as particles depending on whether or not they are being observed. I want to ...
9
votes
4answers
1k views

What does a de Broglie wave look like?

What does a de Broglie wave look like? Are de Broglie waves transverse or longitudinal? Can they be polarized? What about the de Broglie wave of a ground state neutral spin-zero Helium 4 atom? ...
9
votes
4answers
2k views

Electrons - What is Waving?

If an electron is a wave, what is waving? So many answers on the internet say "the probability that a particle will be at a particular location"... so... the electron is a physical manifestation of ...
8
votes
4answers
3k views

Why is the speed-of-light “the upper limit” rather than the speed of “particle type X”?

Basically, I can't stop wondering why light (the photon) is so special, compared to all the other particles known (and unknown) to modern day physics. Could it be that there exists an upper limit on ...
8
votes
2answers
5k views

De Broglie wavelength, frequency and velocity - interpretation

Two fundamental equations regarding wave-particle duality are: $$ \lambda = \frac{h}{p}, \\ \nu = E/h .$$ We talk about de Broglie wavelength, is it meaningful to talk about de Broglie frequency ...
7
votes
7answers
1k views

Why can't we have a wave of particles?

I understand the nature of light can be complex and has extensive theories/experimental data. We hear light can be both a wave and particle, so why can't it be both, a wave of particles?
7
votes
2answers
614 views

Has the collapse of wave function due to observation been recorded?

I've seen pictures like this one, which depict the outcome of the Double-slit experiment with wave-like or particle features, depending how measurement has taken place. The graphic showing ...
7
votes
2answers
2k views

How can a Photon have a “frequency”?

I picture light ray as a composition of photons with an energy equal to the frequency of the light ray according to $E=hf$. Is this the good way to picture this? Although I can solve elementary ...
7
votes
2answers
517 views

Have they really photographed light behaving both as a particle and a wave?

I just came across this article where they are claiming that they have photographed light behaving both as a wave and a particle! The paper has been published in Nature Communications and I read the ...
7
votes
3answers
318 views

Why is Planck's constant the same for all particles?

This question came to me while reading Where does de Broglie wavelength $\lambda=h/p$ for massive particles come from? This question has a nice answer that explains that wave number has be ...
7
votes
0answers
144 views

Anyons as particles?

I'm trying to understand the basics of anyons physics. I understand there is neither a Fock space they live in (because Fock is just the space of (anti-)symmetrized tensor product state, see e.g. ...
6
votes
5answers
750 views

Quantum Wave Mechanics

I am studying QM-I these days. Now, I just think of the wave function as just a mathematical function that defines the state of the particle at an instant and from it you can extract various ...
6
votes
2answers
352 views

Wave function in quantum mechanics

I was wondering about something while studying quantum mechanics. If the wave function collapses when measuring a particle and assumes a single position, how do we know that it was a wave in the first ...
6
votes
1answer
258 views

Will a football (soccer) diffract? [duplicate]

Apparently all objects have wavelike properties, so, if we kick a football (soccer ball, if you must) through a pair of posts, does the ball in any sense diffract? If this is ridiculous then let me ...
6
votes
1answer
6k views

What is light, and how can it travel in a vacuum forever in all directions at once without a medium?

I know there are many questions that are similar (maybe identical?). I am not a physicist nor a student - I am just interested in physics and have been watching many physics channels on youtube ...
6
votes
5answers
142 views

Is a single photon also a Maxwellian wave?

A photon is associated with the equations $h\nu$ and $\frac{hc}{\lambda}$. My book (Serway Modern Physics) says that Einstein explained the photoelectric effect by assuming that the classical ...
6
votes
1answer
1k views

How to tell theoretically whether an electron behaves as wave or particle

I have seen many questions on SE on the dual nature of electrons behaving in certain circumstances as particles and as waves in some other circumstance. There is one thing I couldn't get a clear ...
5
votes
5answers
1k views

What do we actually mean when we say that matter is a wave?

What do we actually mean when we say that matter is a wave? What does the wavelength of this matter wave indicate? The idea of a particle behaving like a wave is kinda incomprehensible to me. ...
5
votes
5answers
309 views

What exactly are light waves?

We know a sound wave is a disturbance that moves through a medium when particles of the medium set neighboring particles in motion. And using the pressure variations we can plot a pressure/time graph ...
5
votes
3answers
568 views

Why does light diffract only through slits?

We can see diffraction of light if we allow light to pass through a slit, but why doesn't diffraction occur if we obstruct light using some other object, say a block? Why are shadows formed? Why ...
5
votes
4answers
125 views

Interpretation of Orbital Magnetic Moment

The wavefunctions for atomic orbitals have always been described to me one of two ways: As a "smeared out" electron standing wave with integer number circumference of de Broglie wavelengths As a ...
5
votes
2answers
414 views

How does the frequency of a particle manifest itself?

In terms of wave-particle duality for, let's say a photon; how would the frequency practically manifest/demonstrate itself? Like, i understand that the frequency is related to the energy a particle ...
5
votes
3answers
504 views

How can particles travel in a straight line?

A particle can be set off in a certain direction by giving them momentum. Momentum is a vector, so the particle heads off in a specific direction. But the wave function of the particle allows it to ...
5
votes
4answers
2k views

What does it mean (how is it visualized) for a particle to act as a wave?

I have no background in physics. This isn't for homework, just for interest. In quantum physics, it's described that a particle can act as both a particle and a wave. Quoted from HowStuffWorks ...
5
votes
3answers
828 views

What does the Schrodinger Equation really mean?

I understand that the Schrodinger equation is actually a principle that cannot be proven. But can someone give a plausible foundation for it and give it some physical meaning/interpretation. I guess ...
5
votes
3answers
122 views

How does a wave packet get scattered?

Particles can be represented as wave packet. So how do particles get scattered? Waves superimpose on one another, they don't bounce off of on one another. It can be seen from picture there is a ...
5
votes
2answers
194 views

A modified version of the famous double-slit experiment

As far as I know, all the double slit experiments that were performed uses a light source (or electron source...) that emits photons at a "perpendicular" angle as this image shows: (will call it ...
5
votes
2answers
646 views

is a single photon a wave? Is it a wave packet?

How could it split and interfere? How could a wave packet, with many frequencies, be a photon with one freq.? Thank you very much.
5
votes
1answer
695 views

The nature of time, according to quantum field theory

I will try my best to ask the question that best fits something I have been pondering on for a few days. Are virtual particles really constantly popping in and out of existence? Or are they ...
4
votes
6answers
473 views

What is the mechanism behind the wave - particle duality

I'm not exactly sure how to phrase this question; I've been reading about wave -particle duality, its history and how it works. But it's really bothering me, whenever I watch YouTube videos about it ...
4
votes
2answers
177 views

Where does de Broglie wavelength $\lambda=h/p$ for massive particles come from?

I'm curious where the de Broglie relation $p=\frac{h}{\lambda}$ comes from? I know that for light (which has no rest mass), the following is true: $E=pc$ and $E=hf$ so, $$pc=hf \Rightarrow ...
4
votes
4answers
179 views

What exactly is meant by “observed” when talking about the wave-particle duality?

When talking about the wave-particle duality, teachers and books say that when you send a single photon through a slit, it makes a wave pattern. But if you send that particle through the slit and "you ...
4
votes
4answers
11k views

Can an electron be in two places at the same time?

So I've been reading a bit and watching some videos about the double slit experiment, and therefore the wave particle duality; I've also read this "implies" that a particle can be in two places at the ...
4
votes
4answers
376 views

Slit screen and wave-particle duality

In a double-slit experiment, interference patterns are shown when light passes through the slits and illuminate the screen. So the question is, if one shoots a single photon, does the screen show ...
4
votes
4answers
774 views

What does observation mean in two-slit electron diffraction experiment? [duplicate]

My question is clear, that I ask: What do we mean by "observation" in 2-slit experiment for electrons (or any other wave-particle)? You know, we say that :"if we observe the electron, it shows a ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

Matter waves - DeBroglie's relations

I am currently studying from Modern Physics for Scientists and Engineers by Taylor et al. They derive the DeBroglie relation $p=h/\lambda$ from setting mass $m=0$ in the energy-momentum relation ...
4
votes
2answers
143 views

What's the connection between the spin of the photon and the polarisation of light?

In view of wave-particle duality, the spin of the photon must have a counterpart in the wave picture: is this polarisation?
4
votes
3answers
462 views

Young's experiment or why the light can't be described as a particle [closed]

Who hasn't heard about the double-slit experiment? It figures in any book of quantum physics. But there is something no one can explain to me : I understand why the light cannot be described only as a ...
4
votes
1answer
193 views

How do you measure a particle's postion or momentum?

This question is about the Uncertainty Principle $$\sigma_x \sigma_p ~\ge ~\frac{\hbar}{2}.$$ Looking at the maths, I understant why the uncertainty in the poistion increases as the uncertainty in ...