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Can the behavior of light be explained on the basis of a single theory ? example, wave theory of light ,if not then why?

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    $\begingroup$ Quantum field theory, as far as have studied it, as a newbie to it, seems to do a good job of describing experimental results and making predictions. But I am sure you will get a better reply from others. $\endgroup$
    – user108787
    May 23, 2016 at 14:17

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Basic quantum mechanics implies that a photon is both a particle and a wave and any experiment you perform, and the result you get, depends on how you set up the experiment.

Quantum field theories, or QFTs, are a combination of basic QM and Special Relativity. The main idea is that a field, (one for each particle) exists throughout the universe. A photon is considered as a localized vibration in the field, as is every other photon.

It is hard to observe this field directly in many cases, such as the discovery of the Higgs boson, which needed the power of the LHC, but with the photon, we don't need to supply much energy to the field to "produce" a photon.

QFT, or actually quantum electrodynamics (QED) in this case, has had a profound effect on how we view the interaction of photons with particles.

This is a huge subject, so I can only recommend you read the link above, as well as QFT on PBS and Sean Carroll's Website

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  • $\begingroup$ Photons are quanta. A quantum is neither a wave nor a particle. $\endgroup$
    – CuriousOne
    May 23, 2016 at 19:05
  • $\begingroup$ @CuriousOne Thanks for the clarification. To learn QM, I had to learn to let go classical concepts and to learn QFT, I have to let go some QM concepts. I wonder is it possible to go directly from classical to QFT, and avoid misconceptions/baby steps. Just an idle thought, thanks again. $\endgroup$
    – user108787
    May 23, 2016 at 20:18
  • $\begingroup$ I would strongly suggest that people stop teaching wave-particle duality, which is really an unnecessary and outright useless concept. My high school physics teacher already pointed out to me that observing wave-like and particle-like properties in quantum systems does not mean that these systems are both, if we apply logic correctly it means that they are neither. He didn't make that up, of course. Dirac already wrote in the 1930s that quantum systems are a complete new kind of entity that had to be approached as such, i.e. this was quite clear to even the founders of QM. $\endgroup$
    – CuriousOne
    May 23, 2016 at 20:35

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