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Would an idea be a particle or a wave or both?

  1. Jul 10, 2015 #1
    If an Atom doesn't decide if it will be a particle or a wave until it is measured, and we assume thought is the tool for measurement.....In quantum physics would an idea be a particle or a wave or both?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 10, 2015 #2
    More likely a wave. Hopefully a brain wave.
  4. Jul 10, 2015 #3
    If thought could be used as the tool for measurement, and the measurement is the trigger for an atom to make decisions could we control the decision outcome? But as I understand it the "observer" is the influence that makes the atom decide to be a particle. If that is true would thought be considered an observer and therefore can only lead to a particle outcome or can thought be considered non-visual. If it is non-visual does that mean it would have no impact on the outcome?
  5. Jul 10, 2015 #4


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    Gold Member

    That would be a bad assumption. It is observation/detection that triggers the collapse.
  6. Jul 10, 2015 #5


    Staff: Mentor

    This is a common pop science statement, but it's a serious oversimplification. "Measurement" is simply an interaction that can change the state of the atom. Some states have useful particle interpretations, some don't; some states have useful wave interpretations, some don't. And in any case, "particle" and "wave" are not intrinsic physical attributes of an atom or its states; they are labels that we humans put on certain states to help us try to understand what's going on. If we choose to change the label we use because the atom underwent some interaction and changed its state, that's our choice as humans trying to analyze the experiment; the atom didn't "decide" anything, we did.
  7. Jul 10, 2015 #6


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    Staff: Mentor

    As a starting assumption, this is a near-hopeless oversimplification of a fairly subtle issue. There are many threads here discussing the role of conscious thought and the notions of wave/particle duality and particles "choosing" to be one or the other, and I suggest that you work your way through some of them so that you can start on more solid ground.

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