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B Is wave a physical object or its just a model?

  1. Oct 14, 2016 #1
    Is wave a physical object or its just a model?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 14, 2016 #2
    Have you ever surfed?

    A physical wave is a physical wave and a model of a wave is a model of a wave.
  4. Oct 14, 2016 #3


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    This is an open question. To quote from Franck Laloë's Do we really understand quantum mechanics? Strange correlations, paradoxes and theorems:
  5. Oct 14, 2016 #4
    Having trouble seeing how a wave function can be interpreted as a physical thing....it implies too many exotic attributes. By Occam's razor it is more efficient to discard a wave function as a physical object, IMO.
  6. Oct 14, 2016 #5

    Vanadium 50

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    Is wind "just a model"?
    Is "temperature "just a model"?
    Is "resistance" just a model?
    (About a zillion other things can go here)
  7. Oct 14, 2016 #6
    If we say " the electron is a wave" does this mean an electron is travelling up and down like water?
  8. Oct 14, 2016 #7


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    No it does not mean that.

    The electron is neither a wave nor a particle, it is a quantum object that displays wave-like or particle-like behaviour depending on context.

    The position and momentum is described by a probabilistic function, which takes the form of a complex wave equation.
  9. Oct 14, 2016 #8
    No "we" are saying that in the context of specific physical systems a wave function can be defined such that when specific operations are applied to it we get a range of values that describe the electron's behaviour that can be verified experimentally.

    That's what "we" are saying.... but I don't want to speak for other people so "we" is just "me".
  10. Oct 14, 2016 #9
    In a wave, lets say a string, we can measure the wavelength to be the distance between the two troughs. Then which points in an electron can we use to measure the trough if it is a wave?
  11. Oct 14, 2016 #10
    Diffraction of electrons yields their wavelength. Just as in light.

    You have seen electron microscope images?
  12. Oct 14, 2016 #11


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    Before thinking about an electron, you might want to analyse your example of a wave in a string. What is the wave as a "physical object" in this case? The string is physically a row of particles and each particle is moving up and down with simple harmonic motion, out of synchronisation with each other, such that particles a certain fixed distance apart are in synchronisation. Now, where and what is your wave physically in this case? You appear to have a sinusoidal wave propagating along the string, but is that really a "physical" thing or just an illusion caused by the vertical motion of each particle?

    If you simulated a wave by, say, having sets of vertical lights in a long horizontal row and had the lights go on and off in a certain pattern, then you would see a wave appear to propagate. Is this still a physical wave or a simulation?

    In other words, what actually is a wave physically?
  13. Oct 15, 2016 #12


    Staff: Mentor

    As always contest is everything.

  14. Oct 15, 2016 #13
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