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Thread: waves/particles

  1. #1 waves/particles 
    Moderator Moderator AlexP's Avatar
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    If all particles are wave-like, does it also go to say that all waves are particle-like? Like, does every wave, from gamma rays down to radio waves, have a photon with it?

    I've always thought of waves as big, long continuous things, but I just realized last night that I think I'm wrong on that. Basically, in say, a gamma ray, could it be said that the photon is the wave, and it moves in a curvy kind of pattern with a specific wavelength and amplitude and such, and once this waves moves through you without interacting it's just gone? Hope I worded that ok...I know what I'm trying to say but it'd not real easy to put it into words...


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  3. #2  
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    Yes, it's true. All waves can be associated with a particle and all particles or objects (even yourself) can be associated with a wave. See the deBroglie hypothesis.

    The catch is that in nearly all cases it is absurd to do so. For electromagnetic energy, the smaller the wavelength the more well-defined is the corresponding photon. Long wavelengths are more problematical. Radio engineers, for example, deal exclusively with waves, not photons. At radio frequencies the photon is all smeared.

    As for associating an object with its deBroglie wave, this really works only for subatomic particles. It is useful, for example, to explain electron diffraction. It is pointless to apply it to classical objects.

    Once again I have the sinking feeling that you are creating the standard beginner's trap for yourself, thinking of photons as little marbles obeying classical principles. It may be fun but such a notion will lead you down many a wrong road. Take care.


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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    imo what we call elementary "particles" are not really particles at all but entities which ,depending on the situation, can be best understood by an analogy which emphasises either their particle or wave behaviour
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  5. #4  
    Moderator Moderator AlexP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    imo what we call elementary "particles" are not really particles at all but entities which ,depending on the situation, can be best understood by an analogy which emphasises either their particle or wave behaviour
    yeah...it's probably a bad thing that we tend to call them particles...
    "There is a kind of lazy pleasure in useless and out-of-the-way erudition." -Jorge Luis Borges
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