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Doubleslit experiment  a couple of questions 
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#1
Sep1608, 08:04 AM

P: 6

Hi. I've just started learning about quantum mechanics, and I find the whole subject very interesting. I have read about the doubleslit experiment, and I didn't understand a couple of things.
Assuming one were to fire one particle at a time at the diffraction slit:  will all particles pass through the doubleslit thingy, or will some remain on that board without passing through the slits?  I understand electromagnetic waves do not really carry energy, but merely determine where the particle will land. Is that correct?  Photons travel at the speed of light, right? So would it be possible to determine the trajectory of a photon by calculating the time that passes between emission and reception? So that you would know which slit it passed through?  Do the aforementioned waves travel at the speed of light as well? If so, how does it make sense that they can interfere with each other, when they fall on the screen at different times?  If the waves and the photons travel at the speed of light, and if you can determine the time between emission and reception, then some photons should be determined to have passed through the nearest slit to the point where they 'land'. But in order for particles to determine where they land, they should need information from the diffracted waves from both slits, yet the wave from the slit farther away shouldn't even have reached the reception screen by that time. How can this be explained? 


#2
Sep1608, 10:19 AM

P: 1,544

First; consider Niels Bohr where he identified a solution that is as complete as reality can allow meaning other interpretations may match but can never be more complete than QM. To understand this you will need to have a clear understanding of 1) Copenhagen Interpretation and 2) NonLocal (start with a thread search here) to see how this resolves the paradoxes by declaring the questions you raise irrelevant and do not need to be answered because that cannot be answered. Don’t just ask “how’s that” no one can give you an answer if you do not take the time to learn and fully understand "Copenhagen" and "NonLocal". Or Second; you can consider the Einstein EPR claim that Copenhagen QM cannot be complete because it is not “Realistically Local” and a [b]more complete[\b] should be, but has not yet been, found. If you accept this then the paradoxes have not been resolved and the only answer possible to any of your questions is “We Don’t Know” until the EPR paradox has been resolved. Has the EPR paradox been resolved or not; yes or no? Most say Yes a few like me think No, a differance of opinion and separate from your question; but makes a differance as to how (or if) your questions can be answered.   To build your own opinion as to who is correct, Bohr or Einstein, I suggest you start by searching threads for keyword Entanglement, Bell Proof, or EPR. 


#3
Sep1608, 10:45 AM

P: 6

Thanks for the answer. I admit I don't know a lot about QM  I was just asking some questions about things I thought I should know before I delve deeper.
Still, 


#4
Sep1608, 01:16 PM

Sci Advisor
PF Gold
P: 5,388

Doubleslit experiment  a couple of questions
With Quantum Mechanics, simple intuitive explanations are difficult (perhaps impossible) to come by. We talk about waves and particles, but those terms should be considered as useful approximations within the context of a formal mathematical apparatus (often simply referred to as the QM formalism). All of the simple (or what some call "naive") models (i.e. like the ideas you propose) have been ruled out experimentally as impossible. The double slit is one such experiment, but there are many others equally surprising. On the other hand, the mathematical formulas have remained more or less intact for 80 years and have been found to work nicely, even in complex and otherwise confusing situations. But the formulas do not map well to visual models or classical concepts of reality akin to what we see around us. This has confounded and confused physicists from Einstein to today. Yet it is hard to argue with what works (QM). I would recommend that you spend some additional time learning about the subject now, don't worry so much about trying to put things in terms of your everyday experience. You will quickly discover that the quantum world plays by some very different rules. Learn a bit about the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, virtual particles, electron orbitals and EPR. Those will give you a better idea of what we are dealing with. Good luck, DrC 


#5
Sep1608, 01:25 PM

P: 1,544

Just to know from what level of science you are coming from?  Did you already know that about motors; but had neglected to include that in your thinking when you approached Quantum Issues. If so don’t do that you do not need to ignore what you know about physics to work on QM it is compatible with it within the rules of CopenhagenHUP.  If you did not know that; be sure to add more Classical Physics to your study. QM does not reject and replace basic physics it builds from that foundation by adding some addition principles. 


#6
Sep1908, 08:03 PM

P: 597

Here's the best way I can explain the 'paradox' of double slit (and get to the heart of QM more generally).
The "Wave" is not some physical thing pushing a particle along a trajectory, as was originally suggested. What the wave tells us is the probability that we will find the particle in some particular place, at some particular point in time. This variation with time accounts for the fact that we perceive things to be moving with velocities the distance from some known starting point at which we are most likely to find it changes with time at a particular rate, which you can also determine using the wave function. It is this "wave function" that interferes with itself, and you don't treat the particle as a localised thing with definite properties until you measure those properties. I should say now that what I just said is a loose translation of the mathematics of quantum mechanics into words. It doesn't necessarily follow that the particle doesn't exist, or doesn't have definite properties, prior to us looking for it. QM restricts itself to predicting the results of experiments; which it does extremely well! But it doesn't give us a particularly coherent picture of nature the way that Newton's second law describes particles accelerating in whatever direction you push them. Different groups of people have proposed various different such "pictures", and you'll find some pretty veherment disagreements about their various merits on here and elsewhere. RandallB: Surely the EM fields in your motor are ultimately quantised? Here's a question about this experiment for people versed in the maths of QM one that, a little embarassingly, occured to me as I was thinking through an FAQ entry on it I told ZZ I'd do a while ago The act of measurement is essentially described as a projection picking out one particular state vector from the eigenbasis of whatever variable you're measuring. If you do this experiment with (say) electrons, and try and "catch" whatever slit the particle went through, you destroy your interference pattern the particles line up behind the slits like bullets would. But what you've done here is measured the position, and it can't be simultaneously in an eigenstate of both the position and momentum operators. So why does it then carry on like a bullet in a straight line? Why doesn't its momentum carry it off whichever way it pleases? The answer I've just come up with is that the average momentum in directions orthogonal to the axis perpendicular to the plane of the slits is zero. When you've measured the position of the particle in the direction of the width of the slits, that's what you're stuck with before momentum carries it anywhere else. Then, the standard deviation of lateral momenta about zero is given by the HUP to be on the order of hbar/(slit width). In the 'standard' experiment (without detectors over the slits) you have (to excellent approximation) a free electron wavefunction of e^ikx, which gives rise to an interference pattern because it's a diffracting wave. Is this right? (The implication of this if correct of course is that Huygens' principle can be applied to our 'probability' waves... which would actually make quite good physical sense, by the standards of QM ) 


#7
Sep1908, 08:18 PM

P: 72




#8
Sep1908, 08:22 PM

P: 597

Huh. I got the idea that they did from Jim AlKhalili's book admittedly popsci, but the guy is a respected working physicist and he's quite explicit in the claim. Can I ask why you say that they don't?



#9
Sep1908, 08:30 PM

P: 72

You can make slits big enough and far enough apart so that they effectively cast shadows of themselves on the screen. But you then you can't get an interference pattern. You only get an interference pattern when you squinch the slits down so small that they cause the waves to spread out behind them. 


#10
Sep1908, 08:31 PM

P: 597

That you should observe singleslit diffraction is what got me thinking about this in the first place...
Also, you say that they "spread out like waves" but that you don't see an interference pattern. Are you saying that they diffract or not? 


#11
Sep1908, 08:33 PM

P: 72




#12
Sep1908, 08:38 PM

P: 597

Can I ask again if you've heard somewhere the specific, exact claim that if you do the two slit expt. and try and detect the slit through which the electron passes you observe the results you've described? 


#13
Sep1908, 08:43 PM

P: 72




#14
Sep1908, 08:45 PM

P: 597

Diffraction is the spreading out of a wave as it passes through an aperture: see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diffraction for an introduction. If you are coming to this discussion with a knowledge of the maths of QM, is this from a treatment of QM within a maths degree? As that's a pretty elementary concept for a physics student.
I also find the claim that you don't see an interference pattern for one slit interesting... as you categorically do observe it with light, so if true it would imply that there's a different underlying mechanism EDIT in response to your post: I can see why what you're claiming would seem to make sense, as it's what got me thinking about this question in the first place. I hope it's becoming obvious that I've given the issue a little thought however, and I'm really looking for someone conversant with the maths (and preferably with the actual experimental results!!) to see if what I said above is correct. 


#15
Sep1908, 09:05 PM

P: 72




#16
Sep1908, 09:20 PM

P: 72

OK, I've reread your posts and I understand what you're saying here:



#17
Sep2008, 10:10 AM

P: 1,544

Are you claiming that quantized or not that the correct understanding is that “electromagnetic waves do not really carry energy” as pastel thought?? If so what is carring the energy though the motor? Whenever electrons or photons go though an appropriate slit or double slit they never act like bullets they always produce a pattern. The question is what kind of pattern; Dispersion or Interference. Note that Interference Patterns always fit inside the boundaries of where the Dispersion Pattern would have been expected. 


#18
Sep2008, 06:34 PM

P: 597




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