Waves in a Vacuum

Most recent answer: 06/28/2019

Q:
I thought waves can only travel through some kind of medium, compression and stretching, if space is empty, how can waves move through emptiness?
- Edward Parisi (age 68)
Liverpool U.K.
A:

Great question! Many of the waves that we deal with are ways that various media (air, water, steel,...) can behave. At a deeper level, however, it seems that the basic ingredients of the universe, like light, electrons, quarks, etc., are themselves waves. They are quantum waves, which have strange properties not shared with classical waves, but they still have wave equations and propagate in essentially the same way as classical waves. Even classically, the electromagnetic waves are a basic ingredient, not made up of something else.

Mike W.


(published on 06/28/2019)

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