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I Water waves are waves because we can see them moving up and down, but electron waves?

  1. Nov 10, 2016 #1
    If we say electron behaves as wave, does this mean if we were able to see an electron, we would see it moving up and down?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 10, 2016 #2


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    Nope. These waves are only "probability waves", meaning that all the wave-like properties determine the probability of the electron being within some location when you observe it. Once you observe it, the wavefunction "collapses" and the electron appears in a single spot like a particle. If you follow up your first observation with subsequent ones, you will not find the electron moving or oscillating up and down. What it will actually be doing depends on the situation.
  4. Nov 10, 2016 #3
    No, the likelihood of finding it at a certain place will go up and down.
  5. Nov 10, 2016 #4


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    Not true. Unless the properties of the system change, then the probability of finding the electron at any location remains the same as before. As an example, if I observe that an electron exists around an atom in a specific location, call it X, the probability of it being at position Y remains the same as before unless I modified the system (the atom and electron in this case) by observing it, perhaps by exciting the electron to another energy level.
  6. Nov 10, 2016 #5
    Agreed. More akin to a standing wave, which waves in space but not in time. A confined particle has that nature.
  7. Nov 10, 2016 #6


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    Electrons make Interference patterns like photons do in the double slit experiment. That implies some wave like properties.
  8. Nov 11, 2016 #7


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    It implies wave-like properties of the probability amplitude distribution of position (or momentum). In a guide wave theory the electron is a point, not a wave.

    Interference happens in a phase space unlike classical light.
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