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Questions about wave-particle duality

  1. Aug 31, 2012 #1
    Please bear with me as I have been reading about quantum physics and, not being a physicist, I have some questions regarding the nature of wave-particle duality.

    First of all, according to the special theory of relativity a particle with a rest mass would need infinite energy to accelerate to the speed of light. If this is the case, how is it possible for electromagnetic radiation to consist of particles?

    Second, is it possible that instead of EMR being thought of as a wave-particle duality to think of it as oscillating between being a wave and a particle? In other words, can EMR change from a wave state to a particle state at the node of a wave, before changing back to a wave state?

    This to me would explain why the quantum nature of light becomes more apparent at higher frequencies than at lower frequencies since there would be more nodes per unit of time with higher frequency photons than with lower-frequency photons.

    Thoughts and/or explanations would be welcome. Just keep it simple please.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 31, 2012 #2


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    Photons have no mass. It is why it can move at c.

    Please start by reading the FAQ subforums in both the General Physics forum and the Relativity forum.

  4. Aug 31, 2012 #3


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    It is a nice thought, but it doesn't really work out. For example, for a plane wave, the probability of finding the photon is constant throughout space. It doesn't have 'nodes' where the probability goes to zero.

    If you could make the wave-function of some particle be a standing wave (for example, a particle in a square well), then there would be 'nodes', where the probability of finding the particle goes to zero. But this does not mean the particle exists as purely particle and not wave at the nodes. It simply means the particle has zero probability of being found at the node.
  5. Sep 2, 2012 #4
    I am also not a physicist and have learnt mainly from books. However I did read somewhere that photons can be considered not as particles but as 'packets' of defined energy (hence quantum). I believe the amount of energy in each 'packet' is defined by the frequency of the light, so at higher frequncies, the amount of energy is higher. This may be the reason that quantum phenomena are more obvious at higher frequencies.

    I really not sure of what I'm saying, so please feel free to correct and verify anything :)
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