Can the "same" particle be used in different experiments?

  • I
  • Thread starter Souma
  • Start date
  • #1
19
1

Main Question or Discussion Point

When a particle is observed, an interaction must happen between it and the measuring apparatus. But, this interaction mostly (if not always) leads to the loss of the particle, and hence, can't be used again to do the same experiment or different experiments. I know that particles are identical (photons are identical to each other, electrons are identical to each other, and so on), but is it possible to conserve the particle & prevent losing it? or is it an inevitable loss for the sake of measurement? Will we get interesting results if this was possible? or is it useless?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
vanhees71
Science Advisor
Insights Author
Gold Member
2019 Award
15,371
6,754
There are examples for experiments with a single particle/atom in a trap measuring it without destroying it, e.g., laser spectroscopy.
 
  • Like
Likes Souma
  • #3
19
1
There are examples for experiments with a single particle/atom in a trap measuring it without destroying it, e.g., laser spectroscopy.
I actually didn't know it was possible to keep the particle without destroying it. Thank you for your example. But what about those experiments in which the particle is destroyed? will it be of any use to keep the particle? or will the results be the same as using different particles (of the same type)?
 
  • #4
Vanadium 50
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
2019 Award
24,801
7,812
You asked for an example where the particle was saved. You got an answer, and now you told us that answer doesn't count. You are now asking for an example where the particle is simultaneously destroyed and not destroyed.

I think you should think careful about what you are asking and pose a clearer question.
 
  • Like
Likes Souma
  • #5
19
1
You asked for an example where the particle was saved. You got an answer, and now you told us that answer doesn't count. You are now asking for an example where the particle is simultaneously destroyed and not destroyed.

I think you should think careful about what you are asking and pose a clearer question.
Sorry if I sounded like that, but I never said or thought that the answer doesn't count or bad. I am actually amazed that scientists can conserve the particle without destroying it when observing it. If you look at my post, you can see that I also asked about if we will get interesting results when using the same particle in different experiments. You know, a lot of particles in a lot of experiments are destroyed when observed, I was wondering if the results would be interesting if the particle was not destroyed and used again in the same experiment (or another experiment). I got my answer about whether physicists were able to conserve the particle, I just wanted to go deeper and ask about those experiments in which the particle is destroyed.
Another thing I like to mention is that I never asked about an example where the particle is simultaneously destroyed and not destroyed. If in those experiments the particle must be destroyed, then that's the end of it and nothing can be done. But if, in theory, there was a way to conserve the particle, will the results of using this particle be the same as using other particles (of the same type) in those experiments?
Again, I am sorry if I was not clear, but I think the other question I asked @vanhees71 is related to my post.
By the way, thank you for telling me to be careful about what I am asking. I am new to physics & physicsforums, and I hope I get better at expressing all that I want in my post.
 
  • #6
Vanadium 50
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
2019 Award
24,801
7,812
I don't think that was any clearer.
 
  • #7
19
1
I don't think that was any clearer.
Let's take a Mach-Zender interferometer experiment as an example. In the picture below, I have sketched it (sorry for the bad sketch), where the blue lines are the mirrors (the ones with black inside are half splitters), the red boxes are the detectors, the green lines are the paths (possible paths) of the particle, the blue is the source, and the black is the parameter of the apparatus. As far as I know, the particle is lost at the detectors in order to observe them. My questions are as follow: is the loss of the particle inevitable? or is it a matter of how the detector is built? If the former, then I don't have any other questions. If the latter, then will using it again give interesting results? or will it just be as if we used another particle?
This is an example of what I was asking about. Hope this makes it clearer.
By the way, the paths outside the parameter are just my vision on how we can use the particle again if it was not lost.
Exp.png
 
  • #8
34,489
10,617
Typically photons are measured by destroying them, while matter particles are still around afterwards - they might be in a different state, however. There are a few exceptions, and more complex setups, but that's the general trend.

Your setup isn't doing anything special here, it just makes the experiment (before detecting the photon) more complex.
 
  • Informative
Likes Souma
  • #9
19
1
Typically photons are measured by destroying them, while matter particles are still around afterwards - they might be in a different state, however. There are a few exceptions, and more complex setups, but that's the general trend.

Your setup isn't doing anything special here, it just makes the experiment (before detecting the photon) more complex.
Thank you very much for this information. This is actually really valuable to me.
 

Related Threads on Can the "same" particle be used in different experiments?

Replies
6
Views
2K
Replies
1
Views
2K
Replies
6
Views
7K
Replies
5
Views
716
Replies
7
Views
761
Replies
18
Views
3K
Replies
14
Views
1K
  • Last Post
Replies
2
Views
1K
  • Last Post
Replies
1
Views
1K
Top