Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Quantum Duality: The Light/Matter Interaction

While looking in the structure of matter in the visible universe, one can see that everything forms in such an elegant manner.  An a young age, i was in awe by the physical and material world, and how I always thought to myself, "how in the world could all this 'stuff' come together to form such a perfect place.?"  On the atomic level, matter breaks down into 3 distinct particles, protons, neutrons, and electrons.   Scientists say that electrons, protons, and neutrons as well as light on the quantum level, travel through spatial dimensions in a wave like manner.  One night earlier this summer, i was outside in my backyard after a horrific storm that left my home and the majority of my town without power, so i decided to step outside and look up into the vast, beautiful night sky and watch the light reflect off the pool.  The light from the sky lit up the wave like ripples that constantly kept the water in motion.  It got me thinking about how this duality principle actually works.  Everything in the universe works in a wave like manner until you look at it.  But how how does that work?

         As we all know, we are able to see things in the material world by bouncing light off it, and that light reaches our eyes, and is transferred as electronic information to the back of our brains, and is then transferred, reflected, and enhanced back out to what we see.  So how on the quantum level can something be a particle and a wave.  When you are not looking at something, a collection of particles such as electrons can work in a manner that resemble a wave function.  When you bounce light off an electron, and you observe it at the speed of light, for that split second, you can measure and quantify that particular electron in a well defined place in space and time.  That elecron, the next nano-second may not be there in anymore, but once you bounce light or photons off the electron, you are able measure that particular particle. 

          In a sense, the quantum world works and both waves and as particles, it all depends if you are looking at it.  When one bounces light off an object, the interaction between light and matter gives it a well-defined location in space and time.  When you are not looking at it, in theory, it can be there and not be there at the same time, but on a larger scale it seems to be quite far-fetched because as people we are conditioned to know things are there even when we do not see them. 

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