Which makes more sense: that photons [and other quantum objects] are neither waves nor particles or that they both waves and particles?

Asked by: Andrew


I found the following statement in 'The Feynmann Lectures in Physics', Volume 1, page 2-7: '...things which we used to consider as waves also behave like particles, and particles behave like waves; in fact, everything behaves the same way. There is no distinction between a particle and a wave. So, quantum mechanics unifies the idea of the field and its waves, and the particles, all into one.' Feynmann goes on to explain that the frequency of the field (e.g., light; PZ) and the ability of the equipment we use to measure the frequency of the field determine whether the field looks to us like a particle or a wave.
Answered by: Philip Zell, Ph.D. Physics, ACT, Inc.

Electomagnetic radiation exists as photons of packeted energy traveling in the space as wave. Photons are nothing but imaginery smallest unit of energy we can represent. Max Plank stated that the energy exists as discrete units of quantised form, and denoted it as


where 'E' stands for energy, 'h' stands for planks contant which is equal to ~6.63608 * 10-34 joules/sec, 'v' stands for frequency of wave, and 'n' represents a positive integer.

Physicists interpreted the Planks statement as the 'quantum theory' which states that the energy packets are of fixed amount i.e. quantised.

Later in 1905, Einstein presented his 'photon theory' carrying the Plank's idea of packeted energy. Einstein proposed that the radiation is in fact particulate. Einstein further presented the properties of 'blackbody radiation' and 'photoelectric effect' which proved that electromagnetic radiation which is 'wavelike'(shows properties of refraction and defraction) also behaves as 'particlelike'.

In the 1920s,a young French scientist Louis de Broglie even presented the equation that matter behaves as though it were moving in wave, known as the 'de Broglie's wavelenth'


here 'h' represents the plank's contant, 'm' represents the mass of the particle, and 'v' represents the velocity of the particle.

Thus, according to this ALL matter behaves as waves. Because an object's wavelenth is inversly proportional to its mass, however, heavy objects such as planets and baseballs have wavelengths that are many orders of magnitude smmaler than the object itself.
Answered by: Satinder Singh, High school graduate