Sunday, April 12, 2009

Particle Wave

Alright, I'm not exactly sure what I'm looking at, but it's a scientific effort to take a picture of an electron's particle wave produced when it was ejected from the atom by injecting energy into the atom via an ultraviolet pulse. A megafast (scientifc term) strobe was used and from what I can gather from entirely unscientific reading is that we're looking at some sort of momentum field.

I read about this in Discover Magazine so am inclined to think it's for real, but my initial thought otherwise would've been that you can't take a picture of an electron - that the observation itself forces the electron to stop being a wavelike probability distribution that we're seeing here and forces it to become a particle. But it seems to me I'm seeing a probability distribution here.

Here's one of the blog posts about this I came across.

It's interesting that there are gaps in the probability distribution. I had pictured the electron in a cloud, but there seem to be rings where it prefers to be - at least unless there's some sort of interference pattern in the photography that's causing the gaps in the distribution to appear. The wobbly nature of the motion in the very short period of time is interesting - sortof an elliptical orbit maybe. I can't tell if we're looking at something sperical or more dimensional, although some comments indicate sphere.

Anyhow, thought this was pretty cool

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