Mar 02, 2015 08:02 PM EST
If you ever thought that you were alone in not understanding how light could both be a particle and a wave, you need not worry because you weren't. In fact, for the better part of a century since Einstein theorized the dual nature of light, even researchers have had a tough time digesting the out-of-the-box quantum physics that this notion required to be true. Many researchers simply assumed that since the math checked out, and Einstein being the brilliant genius that he was, that the theory was right. But now, with some clever experimental design and a super-powered electron microscope, researchers are putting the doubts to rest and proving Einstein's theory once and for all.
Developed by a team of American and Swiss researchers with the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) Labs in Switzerland, a new study to be published this week in the journal Nature Communications will reveal just how light can act as a particle and as a wave. And just to make sure that there was no doubt left, the researchers with the lab used one of only two advanced electron microscopes in existence to capture the occasion on film.
Firing a laser at a microscopic nanowire, the researchers were able to force light to act as a wave, as it travelled along the length of the wire. But when multiple waves met, traveling in opposite directions they formed a "standing wave", which emits light as particles instead.
Want to see how the researcher's did it?
Well, the quantum physics underlying the study is rather difficult to digest, so instead researchers with the EPFL Labs decided to use illustrations to make their point. And it's easy enough that nearly anyone can comprehend.
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