Do waves and/or particles exist at all?

In summary: Rather, what is observed in experiments is the result of the wave-like behavior of particles.In summary, waves and particles exist, but they are different concepts that are used in different ways in QM.
  • #1
Do waves and/or particles exist at all?

This question may come out of some ignorance on my part, but I was reading the Feynman Lectures on Physics and it said that saying that light is both a wave and a particle is synonymous with saying that it is really neither one; BUT my textbook said that particles with mass are also waves, which would seem to imply that "particles" with mass are also neither a wave nor a particle. Which begs the question, Does our conception of a particle exist in nature at all? Likewise, Does our conception of a wave exist in nature at all? Or is everything made out of fundamental quasi-wave quasi-particle stuff that we can't really observe? Although I suppose we can observe this "stuff" in the sense that we can say that part of its nature is that it cannot be observed in a traditional, classical way.
 
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  • #2
yes it exist, its both wave and particle form, no obserrvrer needed.
solipsism is B U N K
 
  • #3
I think the OP has a point. It can be argued that neither particles nor waves really "exist" in the classical sense. When we talk about particles/waves in QM we are really referring to particle-like and wave-like properties of quantum mechanical "objects", this is especially striking in the case of point-particles such as the electron.
Much of the confusion around QM stems from the fact that people want to hold on to familiar concepts such as particles and waves when they interpret the formalism. In many ways it would perhaps be better to stop using these altogether.


However, it is important to realize that this problem only comes up in the interpretation of QM, the formalism (i.e. the math) is very clear and can predict the outcome of experiments with very high accuracy (as far as we know QM is exact) which ultimately is the only thing that matters in physics.
 
  • #4
well, i guess bohmian interpretatio n is the right one:P
 
  • #5
Funny someone should mention the Matrix. Leaving aside the criticisms of the 2nd and 3rd movies, by the end of the story it was quite clear that there *was* a *real* world which could not be so easily manipulated by the mind.

The larger point, though, is that if we *were* living in a simulation, there'd be no way to know it. Strict Copenhagenism (at least some forms of it) suggest that nothing "exists" unless it is observed, implying that there are only "interactions" and nothing in between. By this definition, a computer simulation would indeed be indistinuishable from "reality."
 
  • #6
Bosonichadron said:
This question may come out of some ignorance on my part, but I was reading the Feynman Lectures on Physics and it said that saying that light is both a wave and a particle is synonymous with saying that it is really neither one; BUT my textbook said that particles with mass are also waves, which would seem to imply that "particles" with mass are also neither a wave nor a particle. Which begs the question, Does our conception of a particle exist in nature at all? Likewise, Does our conception of a wave exist in nature at all? Or is everything made out of fundamental quasi-wave quasi-particle stuff that we can't really observe? Although I suppose we can observe this "stuff" in the sense that we can say that part of its nature is that it cannot be observed in a traditional, classical way.

You might want to start with reading the FAQ first in the General Physics forum, and then see if you want to explore more beyond that. It is always nice to first established exactly what we are dealing with, what we do know, and then work from there. As f95toli has mentioned, a lot of such "confusion" may arise out of what we define as classical "wave" and classical "particle", and that such concepts may not be the same thing that is being used in QM, even though it uses the same words.

Zz.
 
  • #7
Ouch. I don't get it that so many people don't get it. From the restrictions of our language, and, possibly, our neural structure, something that is both wave and particle cannot be -- except in our imagination.

Consider the electron microscope, in which the images are created by electrons, which are detected as particles. So where's the wave that's responsible for the diffraction that is the "image"? It's the dynamical behavior of the electrons; the wave function of the electron-microscope electrons shows the diffraction patterns, which determines the probability that an electron will be detected at such-and-such a place. The wave function tells us where the particle is likely to be.

No, QM does not have anything to do with a mythical creature or thing that is both a particle and a wave.

Regards,
Reilly Atkinson
 
  • #8
Sorry for the confusion. I was taking about classical particles.

My question was not whether or not what we call particles exists (eg electrons, quarks, gluons etc.), but rather whether or not what we are forced to think of when we say the word "particle" exists. This is also why I was concerned about my question arising perhaps partly from my naïveté because I'm only about half way through my first real quantum class; but no matter how much I use the Schrodinger Equation or think of electrons, I always have to think of them in terms of particles and waves.

In the end, though, what I was driving at was that since leptons, quarks, gauge bosons, are all considered elementary "particles", then everything in the universe is made up of a combination of these "particles". And since these "particles" are neither waves nor particles (in the classical sense), I was wondering if particles were merely fiction. Since no matter what kind of particle one is speaking of when one says the word "particle" the classical description always comes to mind.

I suppose an implicit question is, "Am I naive for thinking about QM like this?"
 
  • #9
a quark is a quark :-)
 

1. Do waves and particles have different properties?

Yes, waves and particles have different properties. Waves have characteristics such as wavelength, frequency, and amplitude, while particles have mass, charge, and spin. They also behave differently, as waves can superimpose and interfere with each other, while particles can interact and collide.

2. Can something be both a wave and a particle?

Yes, according to quantum mechanics, something can exhibit both wave-like and particle-like behavior. This is known as wave-particle duality. The behavior of a particle is determined by how it is observed or measured.

3. How do waves and particles interact?

Waves and particles can interact through various phenomena, such as diffraction and scattering. For example, when a wave encounters an obstacle, it can diffract or bend around it, while particles can scatter off the obstacle.

4. Can waves and particles be created or destroyed?

Waves and particles cannot be created or destroyed, according to the law of conservation of energy. However, they can be converted from one form to another. For example, particles can be converted into waves through the process of particle-wave duality.

5. How do scientists study the behavior of waves and particles?

Scientists use various experimental methods, such as diffraction experiments and particle accelerators, to study the behavior of waves and particles. They also use mathematical models and theories, such as quantum mechanics, to understand and explain their behavior.

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