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The question

has been closed as not a real question.

While the posting isn't particularly well formulated, the question itself can be meaningfully answered as various interpretations of quantum mechanics do give explanations.

Right now, the existing answers and comments lead to the impression that the question is either a philosophical one and thus off-topic, or that existing theories do not provide explanations, both of which I disagree with under the assumption that interpretations of QM are on-topic here.

Incidentally, I've also written an answer I wanted to post but no longer can ;)


This is my proposal for a re-write that's hopefully less confusing but still captures Outlier's intent and main points:


Are there theories that explain wave-particle duality?

I'm confused by the famous wave-particle duality mystery:

When a particle is left unobserved, it acts like a wave and can explore all classically available particle trajectories simultaneously. By looking at it, you force it to decide on a single trajectory, like going through the left or right slit, or like Schrödinger's cat that ends up being either dead or alive; the wave-like characteristics are lost.

Are there theories that actually explain this behaviour?


Should I go ahead and rewrite the question?

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  • $\begingroup$ Go ahead and edit it :) $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Mar 30 '13 at 16:28
  • $\begingroup$ @Manishearth: Done $\endgroup$ – Christoph Mar 30 '13 at 16:31
  • $\begingroup$ ........and done $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Mar 30 '13 at 16:34
  • $\begingroup$ ...and posted my answer; thanks and keep up the good work $\endgroup$ – Christoph Mar 30 '13 at 16:37
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Well, the question was unclear for many people (and philosophical for others), so I closed it. If you think that there's a better way of phrasing the question so that it is clearer/unambiguously not philosophical, please go ahead, I'll reopen it then. The easiest way to do this is to look at your answer draft and think "What question does this answer?".

If the meta community/other mods feel that it should be reopened, I don't mind that either :)

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  • $\begingroup$ In this version of the question, the title and the body of the text seem to talk about two different things. The title focuses on the wave-particle duality but then in the question itself, he rather seems to ask about the measurement process in QM, which can be explained by saying that the measurement always projects the system to a particular eigenstate with a certain probability whereas before the measurement the state of the system is not well defined. So I think the OP should clarify a bit what exactly he is interested in. $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Mar 30 '13 at 16:02
  • $\begingroup$ @Dilaton: Exactly. The whole thing is confusing. (and we're still not sure if he's asking a philosophical question or not; could be either) $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Mar 30 '13 at 16:05
  • $\begingroup$ So I think the question would need a major edit to clarify it, which should better be done by the OP himself. Or at least he should clarify in the comments what he is up too and we could help him with the formulation if he wants some help. $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Mar 30 '13 at 16:11
  • $\begingroup$ personally, I just assumed that the question he asked in the title is what he wanted to know and that the examples he chose were crap $\endgroup$ – Christoph Mar 30 '13 at 16:27
  • $\begingroup$ also note that they are still crap in my rewrite proposal, but I didn't want to just throw them away... $\endgroup$ – Christoph Mar 30 '13 at 16:27

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