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Wave-Particle Duality

  1. Jan 11, 2010 #1

    I have been reading a little about quantum physics (I am in no way a physicist or scientist), and am trying to get my head round Wave / Particle duality.

    The only way I can visualise it is similar to the way to dsp / computer audio; a stream of particles oscillating in space. Particles travelling in the Z-axis, and oscillating on the Y-axis.

    Is this anywhere near right? (Sorry if this is a stupid question, I am completely new to the subject)

    Many thanks,

    Last edited: Jan 11, 2010
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 11, 2010 #2


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    That wouldn't explain the interference pattern in the double slit experiment. See e.g. the currently active thread about double slit experiments. Link.
  4. Jan 11, 2010 #3
    I've answered a question on wave particle duality before, heres what I posted:

    Bohr explained wave particle duality using the idea of complimentarity. Have you ever seen that picture where if you think about it in one way it looks like an old woman and if you think about it another way it looks like a young woman?

    Here is the link if you haven't:


    What Bohr suggested was that the wave picture and particle picture are like the old woman/young woman views. Neither view is really what the picture is of, but together they cover all the human ways of thinking about the picture. Objectively the lines that make up the picture exist independently of our ideas concerning their interpretation. Just as we can't "see" both the young woman and the old woman in the picture at the same time, we can't "see" entities as both waves and particles at the same time. They seem opposing and contradictory, but together they encompass all phenomena. The apparent contradiction is due to our human way of interpreting the phenomena. Bohr's point was that nature doesn't really care what we think of it. Opposites are compliments...its all very Zen. Definitely some Eastern philosophy creeping into science.
  5. Jan 11, 2010 #4


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    Welcome to PhysicsForums, tlawton89!

    As Fredrik says, check out some of the existing threads on the double slit experiment. Also the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, which is effectively a mathematical statement of wave particle duality.
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