I have been watching a lot of videos of the double slit experiment and trying to wrap my head around it. I found examples of where the experiment has been done, however the videos cut out and only simulate the effect an observer has on it. I understand that the wave interference pattern collapses when an observer is put into play.

Is there a video that displays the observer effect in comparison to the regular double slit experiment? I would like to see how observing the particles before and after they go through the slit changes the resulting patterns.

Follow up question:

I watched this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iuv6hY6zsd0

This video demonstrates the interference pattern created by sunlight in a box. I understand that this is how light behaves (photons? Particles? I am not sure ...)

Question: would it be possible to do this experiment, and somehow "measure" the light before or after it goes through the slits, to create the pattern that is created when observing?

And if not, why is that?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate of The observer detail of double slit experiment $\endgroup$
    – stafusa
    Commented Mar 12, 2018 at 16:22
  • $\begingroup$ The results of this experiment, in a strange sense, tell you what you already know. If you don't know which slit the photons are going through, you get a wave result in the interference pattern. If you put a detector on one or both slits, you know which slit the photons are going through, and you get a particle result in the interference pattern. In effect, the observer becomes part of the experiment whether he wants to or not! $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 18, 2018 at 1:45
  • $\begingroup$ You are not allowed to watch the videos of the experiment without an observer. $\endgroup$
    – M. Enns
    Commented Sep 29, 2019 at 2:03
  • $\begingroup$ In this research paper there are some videos that seemingly captured by a low-noise camera: Video recording true single-photon double-slit interference, American Journal of Physics 84, 671 (2016) by Reuben S. Aspden and Miles J. Padgett. $\endgroup$
    – MimSaad
    Commented Nov 2, 2021 at 7:26
  • $\begingroup$ @pandaadb, did you manage to find any videos that specifically demonstrate the "observer effect"? I've searched through a bunch of videos, but most of them only show the simplified version of the experiment. I couldn't find any videos that actually add an observer to the experiment. The closest video I found didn't repeat the experiment with an observer, which is a huge pity: youtube.com/watch?v=_MpvDAQrKbs $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 5, 2023 at 15:01

3 Answers 3


Great question! I suspect the reason you can't find videos (although I haven't looked for them myself) is because most of the videos of interference will be videos of photon interference, since that is the easiest kind of interference experiment to do. However, the only kind of measurements we can perform on photons in this experimental context are what we call "destructive" measurements: for example, you could just block off one of the two slits, and then for any of the photons that get through you will know which slit they went through... but you will be destroying the other half of the photons.

This is therefore not as compelling an illustration of the collapse of interference patterns as an experiment in which you can measure which slit the particles go through while still allowing them to pass through the slits. For this, you need to use some other kind of particles, such as electrons. This has been done, and the interference pattern indeed collapses when you measure which slit each electron passes through, but I still don't know if there is a video...

  • $\begingroup$ One option to do this with photons is to use a pair of polarization filters. Each incoming photon is measured either horizontally polarized or vertically polarized, then passes through the corresponding filter, producing a pair of overlapping single-slit patterns. Removing the filters then produces the double-slit pattern. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 31, 2021 at 15:23
  • $\begingroup$ @JohnDvorak Can you sketch or link a drawing of your setup $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 31, 2021 at 16:25
  • $\begingroup$ @BillAlsept traditional double slit setup, but a polarizer can be placed before each slit. One slit gets a vertical polarizer, one gets a horizontal one. Clockwise and anticlockwise also work... although on second thought with linear polarizers you can turn off measurement just by turning the filter 90 degrees. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 31, 2021 at 16:37
  • $\begingroup$ @JohnDvorak Yes if you have polarizers before the slit that are perpendicular to the slit then nothing will get through that’s slit. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 31, 2021 at 16:48
  • $\begingroup$ ... huh. Would circular polarizers after the slit work? $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 31, 2021 at 17:20

This was the only video I could find demonstrating the collapse of the wave function using photons (a laser in this case) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-6St1rDbzo. She uses polarization filters to define which slit the photons came out of.

  • $\begingroup$ While this link may answer the question, it is better to include the essential parts of the answer here and provide the link for reference. Link-only answers can become invalid if the linked page changes. - From Review $\endgroup$
    – Miyase
    Commented Jan 4, 2023 at 15:29
  • $\begingroup$ @Miyase the question is asking for a video link, isn't it? $\endgroup$
    – likeabbas
    Commented Jan 5, 2023 at 16:11
  • $\begingroup$ That's not how this site operates. Answers are expected to be as self-contained as possible, and links are only there for further information. Remember that answers are expected to be useful to as many people as possible, not only the person asking. $\endgroup$
    – Miyase
    Commented Jan 5, 2023 at 16:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Miyase Since the question is really about finding links, I've converted it to resource-recommendations. I'm not sure whether the answer in its present form (v1) meets the guidelines for such an answer; see the banner above the question, and links therein. $\endgroup$
    – rob
    Commented Jan 6, 2023 at 0:06

I know it's a while since you posted your question but I wonder if you ever found the type of video you were looking for. I ask because I have found the same thing - that it is hard to find an actual video of the interference pattern disappearing when a measuring device is introduced, surprisingly hard to find given the significance of the effect.

One reason may be the nature of the experimental results, e.g. link below to delayed-choice quantum erasure experiment shows the experimental results indicating interference and non-interference:


If you have found a suitable video in the meantime I would be very interested in hearing.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I think you will always at least get a single slit diffraction pattern. There is never a case where only two clean lines appear behind the slits. I had seen animations where two lines appear but never a real photo. As long as we’re talking about visible light this is the case $\endgroup$
    – Lambda
    Commented Nov 24, 2018 at 16:28
  • $\begingroup$ @Lambda You’re absolutely right! You always have single slit interference which also has nothing to do with an observer or not. Observation is just a measurement and measurement is intercepting the photon before it gets to the detection screen. The more photons you take out of the experiment the more the interference pattern goes away. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 31, 2021 at 16:30

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