A photon vs an electron. Wave or particle?

In summary: Here your question would be "So electrons and photons both show wave-like and particle-like behavior, but are neither waves nor particles?", and the answer is "correct".In summary, electrons and photons are quantum objects that display both particle-like and wave-like behavior, but they are neither particles nor waves in the traditional sense. This "wave-particle duality" idea was initially adopted to explain quantum phenomena, but has since been abandoned with the discovery of modern quantum mechanics. Instead, these quantum objects can only be described by their wave functions, which collapse to a state of definite position when a measurement is made. The resulting dot on a screen does not mean that the object is a particle, but rather that it was detected at that specific position.
  • #1
FallenApple
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So we know for a fact that an electron is a particle. The "wave" like properties are not waves at all, its just the wavefunction that is a mathematical wave which is used for getting probabilities for where the electron will end up.

But what about a photon? When a charge oscillates, its gives off loops of EM fields that are actually physical waves. So then we don't get solid points like the electron?

I just can't imagine that those loops of field can converge in one point. If that is the case, then at that point, the electric and magnetic fields are no longer perpendicular, which is a contradiction.

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  • #2
Electrons and photons are neither particles nor waves, as those words are understood in ordinary English usage. Both will display particle-like behavior (such as having a definite position) or wave-like behavior (interference, diffraction) depending on what you do with them, but that doesn't mean that they're either.

A corollary to this is that the statement "We know for a fact that an electron is a particle" is true only if you are using a definition of "particle" that includes photons as well.
 
  • #3
Nugatory said:
Electrons and photons are neither particles nor waves, as those words are understood in ordinary English usage. Both will display particle-like behavior (such as having a definite position) or wave-like behavior (interference, diffraction) depending on what you do with them, but that doesn't mean that they're either.

A corollary to this is that the statement "We know for a fact that an electron is a particle" is true only if you are using a definition of "particle" that includes photons as well.

I thought that there's no such thing as matter waves. It's just particles upon wave function collapse and who knows what before then. Even when there is an interference pattern(due the no measurement), the pattern when zoomed in is made of discrete clumps, which indicates that particles have landed.
 
  • #4
FallenApple said:
I thought that there's no such thing as matter waves. It's just particles upon wave function collapse and who knows what before then.
This "wave-particle duality" idea that collapse turns a wave into a particle was abandoned with the discovery of modern quantum mechanics in 1925 or thereabouts. At the turn of the 20th century physicists knew only classical waves and classical particles, so when they first encountered quantum phenomena around the turn of the 20th century they naturally interpreted these phenomena in those terms: particles have a definite position so If it has a definite position it's a particle; it acquires that position when a position measurement collapses the wave function; therefore it's a particle after collapse.

However, we now know that's that's not what was going on. Instead we have a quantum object. If we measure its position the wave function will collapse to a state of definite position and indefinite everything (non-commuting) else; if we measure something else the wave function will collapse to a state in which that something else is definite and the position is not. The states of definite position do not mean "it is a particle", they mean that a detector at a given position will trigger. Unfortunately, by then we had gotten in the habit of calling these quantum objects "particles" and the name stuck, even long after it became clear that they aren't anything like what the ordinary English-language word "particle" suggests.
Even when there is an interference pattern(due the no measurement), the pattern when zoomed in is made of discrete clumps, which indicates that particles have landed.
Yes, and both photons and electrons display that behavior. The dot on the screen is the result of a position measurement; it's saying "the photon/electron was detected at this position".
 
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  • #5
FallenApple, it's really far more efficient to ask questions rather than posting statements hoping they will be corrected. Trust me - you will like the results.
 
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Related to A photon vs an electron. Wave or particle?

What is the difference between a photon and an electron?

A photon is a fundamental particle that carries energy and behaves as both a particle and a wave. An electron is also a fundamental particle, but it has mass and carries a negative charge. They differ in their properties and interactions with other particles.

Is a photon a wave or a particle?

A photon exhibits properties of both a wave and a particle. It can travel in a straight line like a particle and can also diffract like a wave. This is known as wave-particle duality.

Is an electron a wave or a particle?

Similar to a photon, an electron also exhibits wave-particle duality. It can behave as a particle with mass and charge, but it can also exhibit wave-like properties such as interference and diffraction.

How does the behavior of a photon differ from that of an electron?

The main difference in behavior between a photon and an electron is their interaction with matter. Photons do not have an electric charge, so they do not experience electromagnetic forces. Electrons, on the other hand, have a negative charge and can interact with other charged particles.

Can an electron and a photon be in the same state?

No, an electron and a photon cannot be in the same state because they have different properties and behaviors. An electron has mass and carries a charge, while a photon is massless and does not carry a charge. Additionally, their interactions with matter are different, making it impossible for them to occupy the same state.

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