Wave-Particle Duality

Topics: Thomas Young, Quantum mechanics, Light Pages: 4 (1601 words) Published: April 27, 2011
The study of the nature of light is an important research area in modern physics. Many, including the theoretical physicist Albert Einstein, have contributed to theories involving light. Of these, the wave-particle duality is arguably the most strange and noteworthy concept in the field. Throughout history, some physicists have argued that light behaves as a wave, such as Christiaan Huygens and others, such as Isaac Newton have proposed that light consists of particles (Wave-Particle Duality, March 2010). Today, as stated in the wave-particle duality, light is said to exhibit wave-like and particle-like properties. And still today, physicists are troubled by understanding this concept.

The concept of wave-particle duality is one of the most confusing concepts in physics because it isn’t like anything we see in the everyday world. In the 18th and 19th century, there was a huge debate among physicists studying light about whether light was made of particles shooting around like bullets, or waves washing around like waves (Wave-Particle Duality, January 2010). There are times when light seems to act as both. At times, light appears to only travel in a straight line, as if it were made of particles. Yet other experiments show that light has a frequency or wavelength, just like a sound wave or water wave (Wave-Particle Duality, January 2010). “Until the 20th century, most physicists thought that light was either one or the other, and that the scientists on the other side of the argument were simply wrong.” (Wave-Particle Duality, January 2010) “If light travels as particles we can imagine particles of light (photons) as bullets fired from a rifle. Imagine a brick wall with two holes in it, each the same size and large enough to fire bullets through, with a second wall behind where the bullets will strike (The Double Slit Experiment, 2008).” After shooting enough bullets, you would see a cluster of bullets behind the two holes (The Double Slit Experiment, 2008)....
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