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

1. Oct 14, 2016

### LSMOG

Is wave a physical object or its just a model?

2. Oct 14, 2016

### houlahound

Have you ever surfed?

A physical wave is a physical wave and a model of a wave is a model of a wave.

3. Oct 14, 2016

### Staff: Mentor

This is an open question. To quote from Franck Laloë's Do we really understand quantum mechanics? Strange correlations, paradoxes and theorems:

4. Oct 14, 2016

### houlahound

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.

5. Oct 14, 2016

Staff Emeritus
Is wind "just a model"?
Is "temperature "just a model"?
Is "resistance" just a model?
(About a zillion other things can go here)

6. Oct 14, 2016

### LSMOG

If we say " the electron is a wave" does this mean an electron is travelling up and down like water?

7. Oct 14, 2016

### Mentz114

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.

8. Oct 14, 2016

### houlahound

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".

9. Oct 14, 2016

### LSMOG

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?

10. Oct 14, 2016

### houlahound

Diffraction of electrons yields their wavelength. Just as in light.

You have seen electron microscope images?

11. Oct 14, 2016

### PeroK

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?

12. Oct 15, 2016

### Staff: Mentor

As always contest is everything.

Thanks
Bill

13. Oct 15, 2016

Context.