I have been thinking a lot about the double slit experiment and am wondering whether any theorist has ever considered the following interpretation for wave-particle duality:

Could the reason we sometimes detect particles actually be because we are detecting the crest of the wave? This interpretation would suggest there is only waves, no duality, and that certain observations measure crests which then appear to us as particles. Imagine, for example, a sine wave on an oscilloscope. If you cover everything but the very top line it looks like a stream of particles.

In the research I have done, I have not come across this idea, though it seems consistent with various theories and the underlying mathematics. Some ideas, for example that the electron is a standing wave, do imply we interpret the crest as a particle.

Can anyone tell me if any theories consider the observation of wave crests as the reason for the apparent wave-particle duality?

  • $\begingroup$ As you go further into physics you will find that wave- particle duality really isn't a thing. Also, particles are described by a single wave. So your single wave with multiple crests being multiple particles doesn't make sense. Also also, the wavefunction that describes our particles aren't even physical. And they usually aren't even sine waves. So many things that don't match up here. I'd suggest learning more actual physics first before making your own theories. $\endgroup$ – Aaron Stevens Apr 7 '19 at 5:20

No. No interpretations of quantum mechanics consider wave crests to be particles. And for good reason: this interpretation doesn’t work.

Consider the ground state of a particle in a 3D box. The wavefunction is a standing wave with its crest at the center of the box. But if you measure where the particle is in the box, you find it all around, with various probabilities, not just at the center.

The waves in nonrelativistic quantum mechanics are waves of complex probability amplitude. Thinking of them as similar to water waves, sound waves, or light waves is a conceptual error. There are some mathematical similarities, which is why NRQM is sometimes called wave mechanics, but the conceptual differences are more important.


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