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De Broglie Waves

  Louis Victor de Broglie (1892 - 1987) was one of the pioneers of early quantum mechanics. It had been realized that light, for many years considered to be purely a wave, interacts as a particle. De Broglie made the conceptual leap of realizing that the fact that waves have a particle-like nature could imply that particles have a wave-like nature. He defined the wavelength of a particle by λ = h/p where λ is the wavelength, h is equal to 6.62 × 10-34, known as Planck\'s constant, and p is the momentum of the particle. The truth of this hypothesis has been confirmed by innumerable experiments; particles such as electrons have been shown to travel as waves exactly in accordance with this formula.

We do not notice the wave nature of large particles (such as billiard balls) because Plank\'s constant is such a small number. The wavelength of a billiard ball is so small that we could never devise an experiment to test it. But when the momentum of a particle is very small (such as an electron) the wavelength may be large enough to detect. JJ



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