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What is electron emission or absorption of a photon?

  1. Jul 19, 2011 #1
    What is meant when it is said that an electron emits or absorbs a photon (leaving aside the aspect of heightened or reduced energy states and orbit changes, which I understand.) ?

    I see four possibilities:

    1. Whether the electron is a particle or a wave or some combination of the two, the photon is actually physically absorbed into the electron somehow. If so, does it keep its shape as a particle, a wave or a combination of the two, or does its shape dissolve into the electron's shape?
    2. The concept of shape used in 1. is a macro scale concept and does not apply in any meaningful way on the quantum scale.
    3. We have little or no idea of what actually physically happens on the quantum scale, and the concepts of emission and absorbsion are useful in helping us calculate outcomes which is all we can really do.
    4. The questioner (me) has no idea what he is even asking, and therefore the preceding three options are not even wrong.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 20, 2011 #2
    i'd say the photon vanishes and transfers its energy to the electron(or whatever the physical system the electron is in), no "shape" concept is needed
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