The De Broglie Hypothesis – Physics Research Project #1

Hello, it’s been a while!

News:  Jiangmin has decided to settle as a freelance writer and will be publishing only on an occasional basis from now on.

If you can still remember me from my long absence, then great! I can happily say that my Advanced Higher exams are done and dusted, and I very recently graduated from high school. This Autumn I’ll be starting an Integrated Masters degree in Theoretical Physics…somewhere, I’ll update you on that one in August.

As you may know, I took Advanced Higher Physics this year and around 30% of the qualification is made up of a research project which must be based on a topic of the course. For the previous qualifications, it was required to do your project on a pre-selected topic, which consequently took away the fun, because the topics selected were either classical mechanics or electricity, I.e. not modern physics. But with this? I thought, QUANTUM IT IS.

One of the most amazing things in the course is the de Broglie hypothesis of Quantum mechanics which I very quickly made my project title.

Some background on the de Broglie Hypothesis

In the 20s, the early stages of the construction of quantum theory, a physicist Louis de Broglie postulated the wave particle duality of nature suggesting that all matter had both wave and particle properties.

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Particles and waves are very different things. Particles are localised – they are in one place at one time and therefore can have a precise position. Particles have mass, they can bounce off one another and transfer energy through collision. Waves, on the other hand, are delocalised – to assign a “position” to a wave doesn’t really make much sense, waves can carry energy without the net transfer of mass, capable of interference, diffraction, reflection and so on.

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Parallel Universes #1 – Basic Copenhagen Quantum Mechanics

parallel-universes.jpgHaving attended European Researchers’ Night (also known as Explorathon) in the Glasgow Science Centre, the extensive work of post-graduate researchers left me intrigued. Perhaps the most memorable was the talk with a Quantum Physicist about polarization of photons. Tempted, I then asked him, “What is your favourite interpretation of Quantum Mechanics?” He replied, “This is a pretty debated topic among physicists but I have to go with Many Worlds. I’m a Many Worlds person.” The Many worlds version of Quantum physics is the second most popular interpretation after the standard Copenhagen. Many worlds, also known as parallel universes is probably deemed one of the most out of this world interpretations of Quantum Mechanics and is commonly used in science fiction. Many people are fascinated by the term parallel universes, maybe it’s the appeal that alternative possible realities would exist and their lives turn out differently – though most don’t give it a second thought and just dismiss it for a fantastical perception. 

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