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What is the difference between an electron and electromagnetic waves?

  1. Nov 3, 2011 #1
    Both are energy right?

    I'm asking cause I'm trying to understand the double-slit experiment and I'm just wondering how they can be sure to treat the electron as a particle. Could it be performed with for instance whole atoms or maybe the cores or something else that's more obviously matter? And has it been done?

  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 3, 2011 #2
    Wrong. Energy is an attribute, they carry a certain amount of it, but you can't say that they are energy.

    Electrons carry charge and are therefore sources of an electromagnetic field. An electromagnetic wave on the other hand can be thought of as a propagating change of such an electromagnetic field.
  4. Nov 3, 2011 #3
    Ok, but I now have a few other questions. What happens if both slits are open, but they are far between and the electrons gets sent through only one of them? If it's a wave it can still get through both slits even though one is far away. What would happen? And if only one slot are open, how will it look on the screen with the slits if you measure how it spreads there. Will it show a pattern on the first screen?
  5. Nov 3, 2011 #4


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    Electrons are particles that make up everyday matter, along with protons and neutrons (which are made of quarks). Photons are particles of light (or electromagnetic phenomena in general), which is a form of energy.

    All particles in quantum mechanics have something called wave-particle duality; they behave in some ways like particles and in some ways like waves. When you are diffracting them, they are behaving like waves. Particles do not diffract. So I guess the answer to your question is "they don't".

    Yes, you can diffract anything. It becomes harder and harder the heavier the thing you are trying to diffract, but yes, you can do it with molecules:
    The buckyball paper referenced there can be read here:
    http://hexagon.physics.wisc.edu/teaching/2010s%20ph531%20quantum%20mechanics/interesting%20papers/zeilinger%20large%20molecule%20interference%20ajp%202003.pdf [Broken]

    I can't find the reference now, but I seem to recall that someone actually diffracted a virus. This link:
    is related, but not quite what I was thinking of.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  6. Nov 3, 2011 #5
    Thanks, that's very cool. And insane too. Molecules behaving like waves, makes me completely doubt if I'm real at all.
  7. Nov 4, 2011 #6
    You're probably imaginary.
  8. Nov 4, 2011 #7


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    Why would acting like a wave make you not real? It's just another aspect of yourself that you knew nothing about!
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