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Wave and Particle

  1. Nov 27, 2004 #1
    I'm sorry if this topic makes you cringe but I couldn't think of a good subject for what I want to ask/talk about.

    First, are ALL particles thought to be waves and ALL waves thought to be particles? (don't say sound waves aren't particles because you know what kind of wave I mean :wink: )
    I'm quite sure that this is true.

    Secondly, are particles just an illusion? Where are particles needed in the explanation of anything fundamental? I'm sure you need them because people would realise pretty quick if you didn't, but I can't think of a reason. I say this because particles don't seem to have an absolute position. Are particles just waves that you look at from farther away in the way that Smilies look like circles even though they are made of square pixels and are just abstractions we invent? I'm quite sure I'm wrong but humor me and try to give simple reasons why.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 27, 2004 #2
    the reason for particles is because in the atomic/subatomic world, energy is quantized. As in, yes, while a smiley looks nice and smooth when you're looking far away (where you're sitting down) but look closer, it is made up of little indivisible bits of pixels.

    So, in fact, particles are used as the quanta of each of the 4 forces we know of now. This is because these forces come in discrete packets. A suitable analogy would be a violin and a guitar. A guitar has frets while a violin doesn't, so, you can play notes which are minimum a semitone apart. Say, a F and an F#, you can't play any note in between them in a guitar, but a violin yes. (sorry if this is a little musical ....).

    In the microscopic scale, energy don't come up smooth, thus particles are used as carrying each lump of energy. Yes, in a way, particles in the macroscopic scale behave like waves in the microscopic scale and vice versa.
  4. Nov 30, 2004 #3
    So is the fact that we have always thought everything was made out of particles and that energy is quantized the only reasons that we still use particles in our fundamental description of the universe?
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2004
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