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Observing without Photons

  1. Feb 5, 2016 #1
    Are we able to observe other particles without the use of photons? Are we able to harness electrons or positrons to do this?

    I ask because of quantum entanglement. Creating a use out of quantum entanglement seems to rely on observing one of the particles and thus either getting its spin or location, but not both. Are we able to observe that particle without the use of a photon to get all the information?

    Is it plausible to be able to use other means to make that observation? Is it possible to harness quarks or gluons? If that is not within our ability today, is it a possibility?

    Am I completely and utter off base with these questions? I will be the first to acknowledge my complete and utter lack of understanding physics, but I do have a keen interest in it in general.

    So am I way off base, or do these things already exist and I am not googling the right things?

    Thanks :)
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 5, 2016 #2

    jfizzix

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    Yes. Yes we are. You will be interested to read about the different varieties of electron microscopes. They are very useful because their wavelengths are usually much smaller than that of photons, and so we can get images with much higher magnification.

    Also, it is possible to acquire information about atomic and electronic structure using neutron diffraction (and also x-ray diffraction) measurements.
     
  4. Feb 5, 2016 #3
    And would all these measurements have the same effect on particles when trying to determine spin and location? Would there be an advantage to using an electron microscope? Or is that what is used already with respect to QE?
     
  5. Feb 5, 2016 #4

    PeroK

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    You mean try to observe the spin on a single electron by firing a beam of electrons at it?
     
  6. Feb 5, 2016 #5

    anorlunda

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    If I understand your question, you are asking if we can observe all the properties at once. The short answer is no.
    In the quantum world, when you observe one thing you change the system being observed. Therefore, subsequent observations do not observe the same system state. The mechanism of observation, photons or something else, doesn't matter.

    One definition of quantum that I liked was that it is the realm where things are so small that they can not be observed without disturbing the object being observed. In the classical world, we can always make measurements gently enough so as to not disturb the object; not so in the quantum world. A low energy photon is about the least invasive thing we have to observe with, but even those interact with and disturb the object.
     
  7. Feb 5, 2016 #6

    ZapperZ

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    I'm a bit puzzled by your question. Do you consider the use of an electron microscope, which is a VERY common device, as also "observing" using photons?

    Zz.
     
  8. Feb 5, 2016 #7
    I wasnt sure of the existence of the electron microscope. I had looked up other means of observing particles but that didnt come up for some reason. I had thought there was one, but wasnt sure if it was science fiction :S

    But I had thought that using electrons may differ than using photons. Is that not so?
     
  9. Feb 5, 2016 #8
    I see. That makes sense.

    Are we able to separate out and utilize quarks/gluons whatever else that makes up particles in any way? Is that possible or could it be possible?
     
  10. Feb 5, 2016 #9

    ZapperZ

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    Sure it is.

    So, if you were not aware that we do observe things with electrons, and now that you are, doesn't this clearly answer your original question?

    Zz.
     
  11. Feb 5, 2016 #10
    Partially. Yes. I asked multiple questions.
     
  12. Feb 5, 2016 #11

    Drakkith

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    Nope. Thanks to color confinement, quarks and gluons cannot be isolated.
     
  13. Feb 5, 2016 #12

    Excellent, thank you for the link :)

    Would it be fair to say though, that we currently do not have the means to utilize quarks and the other building blocks of particles at this time, but it could be possible? Or is it your view that we will never be able to do anything beyond observing them indirectly?

    And thanks to everyone else who answered my questions!
     
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