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Travelling on waves

  1. Aug 9, 2007 #1
    Hello - I am new to this forum and to much of physics, thank you in advance for your responses - hopefully I won't get beaten up too bad!.

    Imagine if fundamental particles somehow floated on waves and when you move a particle you're really generating a wave and the movement of the wave is what moves the particle. Don't ask what the wave is but we'll assume that it is currently or permanently undetectable.

    If particles moved that way, I can imagine the two slit experiment as the following:

    An electron is accelerated towards the slits. Really it is a wave that is moving toward the slits and the electron is riding on it. The wave goes through both slits but the electron only goes one way or the other. On the other side, the waves interfere and this affects the movement of the electron. If the detector on the other side of the slits were to light up when an electron hits, the electrons would display the interference fringes and we would get the standard picture.

    The electron never goes both ways but the wave does. If we had no way of detecting the wave, it would appear as though the electron was interefering with itself.

  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 9, 2007 #2


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    That makes even less sense. If the electron only goes one way or the other, then the interference pattern that you detect is this mysterious wave itself, not the electron, since the electron didn't have any interference of any kind. This means you've just contradicted yourself by saying this wave can't be detected. (I seriously hope no one will bring up the Bohm pilot wave scenario here unless one is willing to list in detail that this two are the same thing.)

    Secondly, try it with small pieces of styrofoam riding on water waves and see if you think the stryrofoam pieces will form the same interference pattern. They will not.

    Thirdly, we know what it looks like when the electron goes through one or the other. It doesn't look like the interference pattern.

    Lastly, how come this wave knows not to interfere with each other when I put a detector on one of the slits so that I know which way the electron went through? What difference does it make to the undetectable wave since all I'm doing is detecting the electron that, as you said, went through one slit or the other?

    You may want to read the PF Guidelines if you missed it the first time around.

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