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Wave-particle duality question

  1. Sep 8, 2006 #1
    Brace yourself for another banal question, but...

    All the explanations I've read that introduce the wave/particle duality start by saying it has to be wave (the light-slit interference experiment) and that light arrives in discrete quantums (the photo electric effect, etc).

    None of the "analogy style" explanations cover why light couldn't just be a wave that's always emitted only in discrete "bursts" of a wave. So instead of a particle, you get discrete little bursts of a wave, say one peak-to-peak at the expected wavelength.

    Since I doubt I'm about to overturn physics with this ingenious postulate, I assume there are lots of good experiments and reasons why the characteristics that cause people to attribute particle properties to a photon couldn't be explained by it being a short burst of a high-amplitude wave... but can anyone give me an example or explanation?

    Thanks!
    Dave
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 9, 2006 #2

    ZapperZ

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    Try getting a "short burst of high-amplitude wave". Now do a Fourier Transform out of it. Whoa Nellie, there's a bunch of other frequencies associated with that "short burst"! It is no longer monochromatic, or not even close! The shorter you make the pulse, the more the higher order frequencies that will start to appear. Yet, a photon, by definition, has only 1 frequency. This means that your scenario here is inconsistent with what you are trying to fit into.

    You may want to first read our FAQ in the General Physics forum regarding this so-called "duality".

    https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=104715

    Zz.
     
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