Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Elementary Particles: Wave-Like Nature vs Travelling in Wave

  1. Dec 29, 2015 #1
    When we say that elementary particles are wave-like in nature does that encompass, lead to and necessarily imply the fact that they travel in wave-like trajectories or is wave-like displacement a separate, distinct notion from their wave-like intrinsic natures?

  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 29, 2015 #2
    The trajectory is not sinusoidal, trajectories can just be straight lines. What the wave refers to is the phase of the wave function. I like Feynmann's explanation in his little book QED where the particles carry a clock dial (that indicates their phase). The relative position of the dial then governs what happens when particles meet: constructive or destructive interference.

    It may be more educational to indicate phase with color than with wiggly lines.
  4. Dec 29, 2015 #3


    Staff: Mentor

    Well particles are not wave-like except is some special circumstances ie when in an eigenstate of momentum. What they really are is quantum fields.

    This wave-particle duality idea is a left over from the early days of QM and was overthrown when Dirac came up with his transformation theory late in 1926 or when Von Neumann published his classic textbook on it. The choice depends on your attitude to mathematical rigour:

Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook