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B Superposition - is the theory valid?

  1. Oct 12, 2018 #1
    My friend claims that the theory of electron superposition has been overturned recently. That this was due to measurement errors, and that electrons fly like orbs and planets in orbits, but I can not find any sources.
    I am asking for an answer, thank you very much.
    (I'm sorry, I have no Idea whats going about with prefix)
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 12, 2018 #2


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    Welcome to the PF. :smile:

    Without some references or links, it will be hard to answer your question. Can you ask your friend where s/he read it? If it's in a pop-sci article, we probably can't discuss it here unless there is a peer-reviewed article that the pop-sci article is based on...
  4. Oct 12, 2018 #3
    I'll try ask him tonight
  5. Oct 12, 2018 #4


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    One thing has nothing to do with the other, i.e. "electron superposition" and "electrons fly like orbs and planets in orbits". Your friend (and possibly you) are confused.

    The fact that we have electron diffraction experiments and electron interference experiments are clear illustrations of quantum superposition. Tell your friend that!

  6. Oct 12, 2018 #5


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    And a comment in passing: electrons in an atom are nothing like "orbs" (or little planets), and do not travel in anything like an "orbit".
  7. Oct 13, 2018 #6


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    It's even applied in electron microscopes!
  8. Oct 13, 2018 #7


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    No, instead there is a probability to find electrons around the nucleus, look up Atomic Orbital
  9. Oct 16, 2018 #8
    Every experiment of which I am aware (and in fairness there will be many of which I am not) give results consistent with that of a wave equation, and waves superimpose. The experiments, of course, get the wave picture by collecting many particles, or by interpreting the wave in terms of probabilities. The electron moves around a nucleus because it has an energy of interaction with the nucleus, and from the viral theorem, the kinetic energy equals the total energy, but of opposite sign. if it has kinetic energy it must be moving, however, that motion is not that of a classical trajectory, not the least reason being that if it followed a classical trajectory it would violate the Uncertainty Principle because in principle it would be possible to assign position and momentum to each point on it.
  10. Oct 19, 2018 #9


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    Well, what you describe seems to refer to the stationary states of an electron around a nucleus (something like a hydrogen-like ion, i.e., an atom stripped off its electrons except one). Then, however the electron doesn't "move", since a stationary state is one which is time-independent by construction.
  11. Oct 19, 2018 #10
    The stationary state solution to the Schrödinger equation nominates ψ as what is stationary, not the electron. The stationary state Schrödinger equation for hydrogen has a kinetic energy term that is not equal to zero, hence it must move on any normal interpretation of kinetic energy. As an aside, if you accept my paper (Aust. J. Phys. 40: 329 -346 (1987) describing the ionisation and excited state energies for heavy atoms, these are best interpreted as the actual wave functions being superpositions, but of course that does not make it so.
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