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A Basic Question on Light

  1. Dec 18, 2009 #1

    Char. Limit

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    I feel ashamed at not already knowing this, but...

    How can light be a particle and a wave at the same time? What does this particle-wave act like? By that I mean, is a photon a particle vibrating at a wave frequency or is it a sometimes-particle-sometimes-wave structure or something else entirely?

    Try not to mock too much for me asking something even a middle-schooler should know.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 18, 2009 #2


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    Can I mock you for asking something most college graduates (physics/chemistry majors excepted) can't be expected to understand? :wink:

    Wave-particle duality is something that takes many people a long time to get used to, because it doesn't correspond with anything we're used to experiencing in nature. Basically, the idea is that sometimes light exhibits wave-like properties and sometimes it exhibits particle-like properties, but we're none the wiser as to what it really is (if such a question is even meaningful). I don't think the vibrating particle idea would suffice, though, because photons are known to do things that no classical particle, vibrating or not, should be capable of.
  4. Dec 18, 2009 #3


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    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
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