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Homework Help: Particle Behavior in Double Slit

  1. Apr 25, 2012 #1
    This is more a conceptual question, but after watching several videos about Quantum Mechanics, I noticed a little discrepancy about an explanation of the double slit experiment and it's implications.

    According to one video, the electron fired traveled through both slits at the "same time as a wave a potential and interferes with itself". "The electron goes through both slits, just one, and none all at the same time."

    The other video describes the wave as a wave of probabilty. The electron really goes through just one slit, but we don't know which one.

    Any clarifaction on what happens during the double slit experiment would be helpful.

  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 26, 2012 #2
    The answer to this question isn't really known. It is more of a matter of philosophy. Do you choose to believe that the electron is a particle that we can touch and see that goes through both, neither and one slit all at once? Or do you simply believe that we can only represent to electron as a probability wavefunction? In this case we can only speak of the probability that an electron traveled through one slit or the other.

    The real question is this: CAN we know? Is this probabilistic nature of the electron fundamental, or is it due to a lack of understanding on our part?
  4. May 10, 2012 #3

    I disagree with Jncanter. The double-slit experiment, or the debate thereof, claims to have invalidated the conventional probabilistic view of the particle (the second view quoted by you). It established a truly classically impossible state of superimposition. It is this classical impossibility that makes the potential Quantum Computer almost infinitely more powerful than the classical computers.

    Unfortunately the discussion can be very lengthy as the double slit experiment is a deep deep and probably THE most central experiment in QM. I attached an excellent review article by Rodolf Rosa, and you should find Section 3 quite helpful.


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