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

Is the wave/particle duality of electrons what causes vibrations/sounds?

  1. Jul 1, 2005 #1
    We are told since we are little kids that sounds are produced by vibrations/waves, these vibrations travel through a medium, such as air, until it reaches our ears, or until the vibrations lose strength and dissipate with distance. But what exactly causes these vibrations? Is it only the particle properties of electrons that cause the vibrations through pressure? or are the wave properties of electrons the ones that interact, also through pressure, with the waves of other objects or mediums producing the vibrations/sounds?

    Is it possible that because of the wave/particle duality that have been observed in electrons, and not only because of the particle form of electrons, both are what produce vibrations, but mostly because of the interaction of the wavelike properties between the electrons of two objects or mediums?

    BTW, haven't waves also been observed to have some particle properties?

    If I am right, the "particle properties" of waves and particles cause pressure between electrons, and the "wave properties" of both waves and particles interact with each other producing vibrations.
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2005
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 1, 2005 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    No, sound is much too "gross" a phenomenon to have anything to do with "wave-partical duality". Sound is caused by objects, such as the surface of a drum or a string on a guitar, actually vibrating and causing air molecules to move back and forth.
    "wave-particle duality" is simply due to the fact that, at the level of individual electrons, protons, or neutrons, the very distinction between "particle" and "wave" becomes vague (You can't look at an electron and determine what shape it is! "Shape" itself isn't well defined at that level.) The wave lengths for such things are far, far, smaller than the wavelengths of sound waves.
  4. Jul 1, 2005 #3
    Yes, sound is caused by objects, which are made up of atoms, which are made up of electrons, neutrons and protons.

    Individually, "perhaps" they are far too small to be of any significance, (then again, we do know that small things do affect larger ones) but in big groups it should be a different story. Also you have to take into consideration that if you are right, and something really small cannot have anything to do with the phenomenon of sound, then it should be true that something big would be too "gross" and cannot have anything to do with something small, such as air molecules shouldn't then be dispersed by a baseball, or water molecules shouldn't have any effects on lonely electrons either, but we know this is not so.

    We know that electrons become excited not only when photons hit the electrons in an atom, absorbing the energy. Hydrated electrons, electrons disolved in water, also become excited by the molecules of water, reverting back to their energy state for sometime, before once more reverting to it's particle state. So we do know that small things are affected by large ones, the reverse should be true also.

    Last edited: Jul 2, 2005
  5. Jul 2, 2005 #4


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Are you using "dissolve" correctly here? A single water molecule consists of 3 atoms which themselves contain electrons. There certainly may be loose electrons in water but an electron does not "dissolve" in water!

    In any case, my original point stands- sound is not caused by quantum phenomena.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 2, 2005
  6. Jul 2, 2005 #5

    Excerpted from.

    You were wrong once HallsofIvy, you could very well be wrong again.

    I am not saying i know for certain this is true, but i have to wonder if it is not possible at all that the wave properties of electrons play an important role in the disturbance of air molecules causing vibrations, and not only pressure making the molecules of air vibrate.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2005
  7. Mar 4, 2009 #6
    The Duality does not matter, what matters is the property.....

    Actually, the sensation of sound or vibration is caused in our body due to sensory nerves.

    But still, if you need a more physical answer, its your choice.

    The sub-atomic particles are dual in nature is known by the fact that they show both the nature of a wave or a particle,
    there is no sensation of electricity, actually it is what our body feels it to be.

    If it have been, then we would always be in a state of shock, since the revolving of the earth is continuously charging the crust, ionizing all the related components.

    Then why are we still behaving normal?

    It is because of the fact that some charge is already in our body to neutralize it. That charge is produced by virtue of the flow of blood in our body.


    there is no electrical feel actually. And when the limit increases the value our body produces, the body sends a message to the brain to leave the source since the body cannot admit or store charge in it.

    Where was I?

    so, the duality is proved by the fact that:

    [tex]\omega[/tex] sin[tex]\phi[/tex]=[tex]\tau[/tex]wsin[tex]\phi[/tex]/2[tex]\phi\phi[/tex]
  8. Mar 4, 2009 #7


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    He wasn't really wrong. Hydrated electrons exist, and the structure of a hydrated electron is essentially the same as for a hydrated ion, which is what you'd expect. In that sense it's 'dissolved'. But a hydrated electron is still not 'dissolved' in the practical sense of the term, because this 'hydrated' state is extremely short-lived and unstable. Electrons don't stick around to a single area for very long. In the viewpoint of ordinary chemistry, something has to be stable in its solvated state to be considered 'soluble'. E.g. any 'insoluble' compound in water will still have the occasional molecule that goes into solution for a very short period of time. Everyone knows that. It's still called 'insoluble'.

    No. We know what the quantum mechanical properties of electrons leads to. It leads to Chemistry. It's the cause of chemistry and chemical bonding. Which in turn dictates properties like viscosity, that are significant to describing the propagation of pressure fronts.

    But the origins of these properties don't matter. You don't need to know the chemistry that explains the viscosity to determine the role of viscosity in sound propagation. Prove that chemical knowledge is necessary to explain sound, then you can explain the origins of that chemistry in QM terms. Just going from sound to QM means skipping from the micrometer scale of matter to the picometer scale of matter without paying due attention to the intermediate scale, which is chemistry. We happen to know quite a bit about chemistry.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook