As far as I know, particles vibrate with a frequency and wavelength determined by their energy level.

Is this vibration in 3D space?

  • $\begingroup$ Please clarify a bit: 3D space versus what? 1D space? Phase space? etc. $\endgroup$
    – fffred
    Jul 24, 2013 at 0:19
  • $\begingroup$ Are you talking about the De Broglie Wavelength? $\endgroup$
    – Ali
    Jul 24, 2013 at 0:19
  • $\begingroup$ My question was edited by someone else. I just want to learn if the particles vibrate in x,y,z dimensions like every other movement we can observe with naked eye. $\endgroup$
    – Xtro
    Jul 24, 2013 at 1:22

1 Answer 1


Your original question was :

Afaik, the particles vibrate according to their energy level. Is this vibration in 3D space?

One has to state whether you are talking classical particles or quantum mechanical elementary particles or quantum mechanical atoms and molecules.

Classical particles move in three dimensions, any motion. It might be constrained because of boundary conditions but it is three dimensions.

Elementary particles, i.e the ones of the standard model move through space with their kinetic energy, in three dimensions. When unbound, they do not vibrate. Quarks, which are always bound within nuclei, vibrate in three dimentional space.

Atoms and molecules have vibrational states which again are three dimensional but following boundary conditions.

All the above vibrations are with the normal definition of vibration, the center of mass being displaced from its average position with the energy of vibration, not connected with the de Broglie wavelength.

The "vibrations" you are asking, i.e . the de Broglie wavelength defined "displacement" is not similar to the above. The wave is a probability wave, in three dimensional space, but the wave nature appears in specially designed experiments in the distribution of the probabilities of finding elementary particles, atoms, molecules.

Here is what happens when electrons of the same energy are sent through the double slit:

double slit electron

Electron buildup over time

The probability wave pattern, connected with the energy of the electrons, builds up slowly one electron at a time, proving that the electrons can appear as a probability wave, in three dimensions, but the electron itself is intact, hitting one spot at a time. There is no 3D shape to the electron itself. It is its interactions with the slits that show up the wave nature.

  • $\begingroup$ I am aware of double slit experiment and actually I started thinking about quantum mechanics because of that experiment. I'm still not convinced that the photon behave like a wave or particle in different situations. That's why I am all thinking about this vibration and 3D, 4D stuff... Your answer really satisfied me. I saw that my primitive knowledge wasn't wrong. Since the quantum wave (say it, de Broglie) doesn't happen in 3D, it should be a 4th dimension vibration. $\endgroup$
    – Xtro
    Jul 24, 2013 at 14:05
  • $\begingroup$ So, a photon (or maybe an electron) may not collide with a matter at the time its 4th dimension position is different than the matters. That behavior can cause the double slit effect. I have to learn too many things to claim anything but wave+particle behavior doesn't fit my mind. $\endgroup$
    – Xtro
    Jul 24, 2013 at 14:06
  • $\begingroup$ It is simpler if you think of the wave as a "probability wave" as it is the only wave nature in quantum mechanics. The probability of finding a particle after an interaction has wave like properties. Not the particle itself. Similar for a particle in a wave in water : its position changes(up and down) with the wave frequency, but the particle is whole. $\endgroup$
    – anna v
    Jul 24, 2013 at 20:06
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not convinced about that probability wave idea. I think we can determine the position in a specific moment if we have enough information. We should NOT make things up like probability wave when we don't have enough information. In this case, the position in 4th dimension is more believable to me than probability wave. A wave on 1D string has to exist in the 2nd dimension and 2D movement of wave is invisible to 1D creatures. Water wave is a 2D wave (according to movement direction) but it needs the 3rd dimension to exist. 3rd dimension movement(up/down) isn't visible to 2D creatures. $\endgroup$
    – Xtro
    Jul 25, 2013 at 13:31
  • $\begingroup$ As a result, 3D waves has to exist in 4th dimension which we (3D creatures) can't see. Since the waves moves in 4th dimension, They can overlap in 3D position (we see so) but actually they are not overlaping because the 4D positions are different. It's not a probability thing. It's all about the dimension we can't see. These are all my ideas. $\endgroup$
    – Xtro
    Jul 25, 2013 at 13:34

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