Picture of light as a wave and particle

Back in march some scientists took the first picture of light as both a wave and particle. I was wondering what parts of the image actually demonstrated these properties. I have some ideas, but the more I think about it the more I get confused.

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    $\begingroup$ Me too. I read the blurb you linked. The explanation there doesn't compel me to think of photons as particles. It says, as far as I can tell, that the energy exchange by the electrons and the EM field is quantized. You don't need to model the photon as a particle for that to happen. It's possible that the blurb doesn't reflect the experimenter's interpretation of the results. $\endgroup$ – garyp Dec 3 '15 at 3:34
  • $\begingroup$ The double slit experiment with a single photon at a time displays the dual nature of photons. I agree with garyp that the explanation given is not unique. $\endgroup$ – anna v Dec 3 '15 at 4:53
  • $\begingroup$ How does a double slit experiment display that? I'm in AP Physics 2, so I'm no expert, but we did that experiment to show light's wavelike behavior due to the interference generating the pattern. $\endgroup$ – Jackson Dec 3 '15 at 4:57

I post this in an answer because it's too long for a comment.

Lesson no.1 in handling info sources: When something sounds fishy in a (science) news article, always check the original sources.

In this case, scroll all the way to the bottom of the article and check the title of the original Nature article under "More info": Simultaneous observation of the quantization and the interference pattern of a plasmonic near-field. This already tells us that the authors referred to "quantization and interference", not to "particle and wave". If we now check their Abstract, we find that they "demonstrate the ability of ultrafast transmission electron microscopy to simultaneously image both the spatial interference and the quantization of such confined plasmonic fields." Again, nowhere in the Abstract do they mention "particle and wave", but they do insist on "quantization and interference", and for very good reason: This is what is observed, regardless of any particular interpretation. Now, if anyone wants to connect the dots between "quantization" and "particle", it's frankly their separate problem. Personally, I wouldn't go for it, but the author of the news article probably thought it sounds close enough.

  • $\begingroup$ Wired and discovery have articles making the jump to particle & wave as well. Not sure if that means anything, but it's not just the Author of this article. $\endgroup$ – Jackson Dec 3 '15 at 8:22
  • $\begingroup$ In my experience science news articles kinda propagate on a weekly basis, sometimes monthly, from an original source that is usually Phys.org, Physics (APS), SciAm, Nature, etc, to secondary sources. They generally rely on one another for the basic facts and terminology, so if someone sets the tone, others follow. $\endgroup$ – udrv Dec 3 '15 at 8:30

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