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I Light, wave or particle?

  1. Feb 7, 2017 #1
    Is "a light, particle or wave" an absolute question or a relative question?
    Should a light be considered as a particle or as a wave depends upon the relative size of the system?

    When considering a visible light relative to a basket ball should it be considered as particle, while
    a visible light relative to an atom be considered as a wave?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 7, 2017 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    Neither. It's a misguided question, which assumes that light must be one or the other.

    No. See above.

    No. See above.
  4. Feb 8, 2017 #3
    Just to expand to help the OP, light, at all times, can be considered both a wave and a particle. In fact, as you will see on the linked page, matter is also both a wave and a particle. It is true, however, that it is sometimes more useful to think of light as either a particle or a wave, but that does not change the fact that it is both. It is just that in some situations, it is important to either focus on light's wave- or particle-like properties.
  5. Feb 8, 2017 #4


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    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    This link gives you the FAQ that we get in this forum all the time:


    You will find an entry for this question there.

  6. Mar 1, 2017 #5


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    Gold Member

    Actually, that's the best way to express it. It's a quantum object. It will ACT like a wave if you measure for wave-like characteristics, and it will ACT like a particle if you measure for particle-like characteristics, but that does not make it a wave or a particle; it is distinct from both.
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