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When are photons waves?

  1. Sep 12, 2014 #1
    When the light from a distant star comes to our eyes...as the photons transverse the distance...are they traveling as a particle or as a wave? ie Are we being bombarded by millions of photon bullets or millions of waves?

    tex
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 12, 2014 #2

    phinds

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    Photons are not particles OR waves, they are quantum objects. If you test for them as particles (for example, with the retina of your eye) they will ACT like particles and if you test for them as waves they will ACT like waves, but thinking of them as one or the other leads to the kind of confusion you are having.
     
  4. Sep 12, 2014 #3

    Dale

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    It is not useful to think of quantum mechanical particles as though they were classical bullets nor as though they were classical waves. They are quantum particles, and quantum particles have quantum properties that are not effectively captured by either classical description.
     
  5. Sep 17, 2014 #4
    Actually photon can be both a wave and a particle at the same time
    Think of photon as a ice-cream cone,if you look at it in a angle it will look like a circle
    But if you look at it in a different angle it will look kind of like a triangle shape( maybe a prism)
    So when photon travel at the speed of light they are waves but when they interact with other sub-atomic particle they appear to be particle
     
  6. Sep 17, 2014 #5

    Nugatory

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    That's not a bad analogy (although I made a small correction above), but you're drawing the wrong conclusion from it:
    Instead, you should say that light is neither a wave nor a particle, but depending on how you look at it, it will show either wave-like or particle-like properties.
     
  7. Sep 17, 2014 #6

    phinds

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    Yeah, what nugatory said. Reread post #2.
     
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