Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Wave Particle Duality Question

  1. May 16, 2012 #1
    Okay, so after a little research I think I have a fairly good understanding of wave particle duality. A wave function is just a wave of probability. You don't know where the particle will be until you measure it. Until then, the particle will be in superposition. While it is in superposition, it can interfere with itself, causing an interference pattern to occur in the double slit experiment. The act of measurement means that the position that the particle is in directly affects you, and because it matters which state it is in, it is no longer in superposition and it is placed in one of its possible states. In the double slit experiment, it isn't really a wave, it only acts like a wave because it interferes with itself while it is in superposition.

    1. Is this understanding right?
    2. How does this work into the wave particle duality?

    I was EXTREMELY confused by this video:

    youtube.com/watch?v=_riIY-v2Ym8

    I also watched this video:

    youtube.com/watch?v=wEzRdZGYNvA

    Thanks if anyone can help!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 16, 2012 #2
    Welcome to PF!

    Yes, that is the correct description. Since wavefunction collapse (the process of obtaining information about a system that makes its state apparent) is intrinsically random, an observer can describe a quantum system only by the probability of a certain outcome occurring. In particular, each outcome is assigned a probability amplitude - which is the modulus of the square root of the probability of finding the system in a particular state.

    Also, W-P duality allows you to use both descriptions - particle and wave. This is very important in quantum field theory. You can describe an electromagnetic wave as a continuous ray of light, or a discrete number of excited photons, with each description being valid.
     
  4. May 17, 2012 #3
    Thanks! That helps me understand!
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook