Wavelike Properties?  [ENDORSED]

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Johnson Thai 1L
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Joined: Wed Sep 21, 2016 2:59 pm

Wavelike Properties?

Postby Johnson Thai 1L » Thu Oct 06, 2016 1:34 pm

I need some clarification. Throughout the Course Reader, electrons are described as having "wavelike properties." Why so? There is also an example described where "If you are driving a 1.5E3 kg car at 27.0 m.s-1, what is the De Brogile wavelength of your car? Does your car have any measurable wavelike properties?" My mind can't grasp how something like a car could have wavelike properties. Could someone help me explain? Thank you!

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Joined: Wed Sep 21, 2016 2:56 pm

Re: Wavelike Properties?  [ENDORSED]

Postby Junghyuk_Park_1I » Thu Oct 06, 2016 2:38 pm

I believe what that problem is trying to teach you is that when we try to describe macroscopic objects with quantum mechanical wave functions (which are meant for extremely small objects) the results are not really visible. If you look at de Broglie's wave equation λ= (h)/(mv) with your car example, we would have to plug in the mass of the car which is 1.5 * 10^3 kg. Because Planck's constant is a small constant value (6.626 *10^-34 J*s), when a large mass is plugged into the denominator, the resultant wavelength would be microscopically small and thus invisible on the macroscopic scale. Therefore, whatever wave-like properties the car has would be so small that it would be insignificant. Therefore your car could indeed actually have a wave length, but the wavelength would be so small that you would not be able to see it. I hope this helps.

Janice Kim 3I
Posts: 33
Joined: Wed Sep 21, 2016 2:56 pm

Re: Wavelike Properties?

Postby Janice Kim 3I » Thu Oct 06, 2016 3:40 pm

Even though we cannot literally see that something like a car would have wavelike properties, all matter has wavelike properties. However, we can only notice or detect these wavelike properties in extremely small moving objects such as electrons.

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