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Is wave-particle duality a myth?

  1. Jan 18, 2015 #1

    This paper- http://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/0609163 - suggests (on p4) that the term 'wave-particle duality' is an incorrect description of the phenomenon, but then goes into a bit of heavy maths to describe the realities of it, so I'm left a little confused.

    Is my understanding correct when I say that the term 'duality' incorrectly suggests that a particle is also a wave, - ie. suggesting that a particle and a wave are two separate things in their own right - when actually neither is entirely correct and a particle by its very nature *is* a wave in the sense that it spreads out and does't actually act like a particle in the classic 'solid object in an specific position in space' kind of way?

    Seems like a useful paper to clarify some misconceptions. Thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 18, 2015 #2
    And to add to that, is all of the stuff in the universe essentially in the form of waves or fields, which can manifest as point like particles. I get confused between waves, fields and particles when trying to get my head around the fundamental 'stuff' of the universe. I'm sure I'm not alone!
  4. Jan 18, 2015 #3
    A quantum system is neither a wave, or particle, in the classical sense.
  5. Jan 18, 2015 #4


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    What the particle "is" is difficult to define. For example - photons. When doing a double slit experiment, waves make sense. For the photo-electric effect, particles make sense. What words to use to describe photons is almost outside of physics.
  6. Jan 18, 2015 #5


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    You may call it a myth, I name it <a short lived outdated principle> in physics which should only be mentioned as a historical fact in introductory texts on modern physics, just like the Bohr model of 1913.
  7. Jan 18, 2015 #6


    Staff: Mentor

    The wave bit is incorrect.

    Its in the form of quantum fields - but an intuitive understanding of that is not really possible - although the following makes a reasonable fist of it:

  8. Jan 18, 2015 #7


    Staff: Mentor

    Its not a myth - De-Broglie came up with that hypotheses - that's a historical fact - and he won a Nobel prize for it - it was an indispensable way-station in the development of the full theory. But with the rapid development of quantum physics between 1922 when he made the hypothesis and end of 1926 when the full quantum theory emerged it didn't last long and it's simply a bit of outdated physics that has outlived it usefulness.

    The modern statent is quantum particles sometimes act like waves, sometimes like particles, but most of the time like neither. The issue is to know what like and sometimes means in that statement you have to use the full quantum theory so you may as well do that from the start.

    Last edited: Jan 19, 2015
  9. Jan 19, 2015 #8
    And the point-particle bit is not?
  10. Jan 19, 2015 #9


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    Staff: Mentor

    Enough already... we're starting to talk about which is the most unaccepted part of a no-longer accepted picture, and that's neither helping OP with his question (which has been answered now) nor creating a discussion that will be helpful to someone else (for example, a new visitor brought to the thread via google).

    Closed, but PM me if you want to add something to this thread that will help either OP or my hypothetical new visitor.
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