Interpreting Quantum Experiments

Quantum theory generates many predictions that are counter-intuitive. In quantum theory matter and energy act as either waves or particles, some times both, sometimes changing their nature instantaneously when the experimental apparatus is changed. Experiments consistently confirm the predictions of quantum theory.

Written 1999

Formatted 2010


interferometer 2

Does it act like a particle or wave? How quickly can it switch from the one to the other? How does it know to switch?

Pictured above is one of the less surprising results - a light beam acting as a wave and passing through barriers provided its frequency matches the barrier spacing. (See Ref1 or Ref2)

To the side is a simple experiment that gives more surprising results. As shown, the light exits the apparatus as an interfering wave. If the barrier is moved to cut the one beam the light exists the apparatus as if it passed through as a particle. (Compare)

There are many other experiments where light, electrons, or atoms may show such an identity crisis.




  Many interpretations have been offered to explain how the wave-particle communicates with its world so that it knows to change from a wave to particle. These include the many worlds interpretations, time travel, superluminal velocities, and sub-atomic intelligence. There is an alternative I have never seen studied.

In every interpretation I have seen so far, the apparatus was seen as a set of fixed barriers and the light was seen as switching from wave to particle. I have yet to see an interpretation where the apparatus itself was seen as a wave spreading through space and the light was interacting with the apparatus wave, or perhaps a modulation of the apparatus wave. This would seem reasonable since, every object reaches out through space with its gravitational field, and conducting objects pass signals through the space that surrounds them (ie: radio transmission & EMI). Beam splitters and mirrors are conducting objects.

I propose that if the correct transformation is taken so as to describe the apparatus as a wave system that may interact with the light wave, the behavior of the system will seem less anomalous. To do this will require a post-calculus understanding of transformations. (see a simple analogy for relativity.)


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